First certified armless pilot to share her story of triumph

Jessica Cox stands next to a plane she pilots. She is the first certified pilot with no arms and also has a black belt in Taekwondo.Courtesy Art
Jessica Cox stands next to a plane she pilots. She is the first certified pilot with no arms and also has a black belt in Taekwondo.
Courtesy Art
By Abigail Loop
Staff Writer

Jessica Cox was born without arms, but it wasn’t a limitation in life, just another way to distinguish herself.

Cox is the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot’s certificate. The Baylor community will have the opportunity to hear Cox’s story of breaking records Thursday during her campus visit.

The free event, co-sponsored by Baylor’s Academy for Leader Development and Baylor’s Institute for Air Science, will begin at 6:00 p.m. on the fifth floor of Cashion Academic Center. Cox will deliver a lecture titled “Think Outside the Shoe” and share her personal story of triumph despite what some may have called barriers.

When she was 14, Cox earned her black belt in the International Taekwondo Federation, according to Cox’s personal website. She went on to later receive a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona and received a Guinness World Record for being the first person certified to fly an airplane with only their feet in 2008.

Although she has become known for such achievements, Cox said these are just normal aspects of her life.

“I was just doing what I love to do. The titles I’ve received are just the icing on top,” Cox said. “I want to be able to use my story to change perspectives on disabilities.”
Dr. Trey Cade, director of the Institute for Air Science, said event coordinators wanted to bring Cox to Baylor because of her inspiring story.

“She’s a very motivational speaker on overcoming challenges and very sought after,” Cade said. “I think she’ll bring an inspirational message to students about how she’s gotten to where she is now and to have done something that no one else has done.”

Cox said when speaking at Baylor’s campus this week, she hopes to bring a message to the audience that inspires them. Her message will convey three points about life: desire, persistence and fearlessness. She will be speaking about the creativity required of her to become a pilot as well as the challenges she faced in the process.

“It used to be my greatest fear to fly and to lose contact with the ground and I believed that actually flying would help me get over it,” she said. “I’ve now been a certified pilot since 2008.”

Besides flying planes and traveling the country as a motivational speaker, Cox is currently bringing her life story to the big screen with a documentary called “Right Footed.” With her speaking events and documentary, Cox hopes to make an impact on a number of audiences, especially at Baylor.

“I am thrilled to speak for the first time at Baylor,” she said. “The best part of using my story to help others and have people come away with a different way of thinking.”