This world is pretty difficult for physically handicapped people. Despite of all the special benefits given by the governments of almost all the countries, they still lead a hard life. Firstly, they can’t make use of their full body in opposition to what they were supposed to do. Other than that, they become dependent on someone for their daily chores. You might have witnessed hundreds of people who had to undergo amputation of some of their body parts, and apart from losing their body part, they had to lose independence. This does seem to be a hurtful deed.
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But some people just don’t lose hope. These are the people that mark their names in golden letters on the book called Life. These are the people that change the world. These are the people that are discussed everywhere and become a source of inspiration and motivation for everyone. And one such person is Jessica Cox, or should we say, the armless pilot.
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“How can one control the complex system of a plane without hands?” is what you ask? It seems that only this 33-year old pilot can answer that, and she does talk about women empowerment as well. Meet Jessica Cox, a Filipino American, born in Sierra Vista, Arizona. It won’t be wrong to say that life wasn’t fully fair with her right from birth. She was born with a rare birth defect and lagged arms. Life does become difficult when you don’t have your hands to use your smartphone, or as a matter of fact, do ANY of the deeds that you need to do. Psychologists say that there is a high chance that people with such deformities go into depression right after a few years of birth, but what Jessica did sets a whole new definition to the problem she suffered from.
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Cox didn’t compromise on her studies despite of her problem and graduated from University of Arizona in 2005. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and needless to say that this degree played a major role in her bread and butter, which she earns by delivering motivational speeches to masses. But speaking is just not all. She also is a certified scuba driver, a licensed car driver, a black belt in Taekwondo, and above all, a licensed pilot. And she does everything with her feet! And you thought feet were just for walking and standing?
The Taekwondo Phase
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Cox hasn’t made use of prosthetic’s after the age of 14. She believes in getting all the work that needs the use of hands done with the help of her feet. Cox started learning the art of Taekwondo at the age of 10. It must be noted that at this age, a normal child is busy completing his school projects! Nevertheless, Cox earned her first degree black belt at the age of 14. She got busy with her life after that, but resumed her training in the Korean martial art while she was in University. She earned her second and third degree black belts at American Taekwondo Association (ATA) club on campus, where the instructors created a whole new curriculum for her. Just in order to let the world know that she didn’t need special benefits, she competed and bagged the title of 2014 Arizona State Champion in forms, and her candidature was NOT in special abilities ring.
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Cox got married in 2012 with a fellow Taekwondo pursuant, Patrick Chamberlain, who is a forth degree black belt holder in the form of martial art. Cox, along with her husband, has travelled to about all the continents, covering tens of countries sharing her inspirational story with the masses. The thing that amazes people the most is how she was able to achieve what people with limbs can’t achieve at her age. She lives her life INDEPENDENTLY. She has trained herself in such a manner that her feet act as her hands while she is trying to put in contact lenses, texting a friend, and even playing the piano. She can play some melodious tunes!
The Pilot Phase
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Cox used to have a fear of flying. But also did she have a fear of living, which she overcame in an inspiring manner. For a normal person who fears flying, becoming a pilot is a long-lost dream but then again, Cox is not even close to a normal person. In order to set an example, she set for extensive pilot training and earned Light Sport Pilot Certificate in 2008, followed by a Guinness World Record of “First Armless Pilot in the World to have obtained a Pilot’s license” in 2011. Cox actually flies an ERCO 415-C Ercoupe, a light sport aircraft that doesn’t have rudder pedals. For Cox’s ease, the rudder is connected to ailerons through yoke, which enables Cox to control throttle with one foot and yoke with another. Smooth!
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Cox tells, it was a hard time for her growing up. She is always grateful to her parents who remained with her through thick and thin. Due to her inspirational story, media got attracted to her with heads over heels. She has been the subject of the documentary, Right Footed, directed by Nick Spark. In the documentary, her life story has been depicted, including the trips she made to various places for lighting up the place with her story. Cox also published an autobiographical Self-Help book in 2015 that goes by the name, Disarm Your Limits.
Cox has been a humanitarian, a motivation and an inspiration for people all over the world. She defines that it is only the person himself who defines his own boundaries. She has also inspired innovations like “Lower Extremity Vehicle Navigation Control System”, a patented system allowing people to drive cars without making use of the upper body. The list of things that Cox achieved despite her disability is infinitely long, but there is one thing she always promotes, which tells you to NEVER restrict yourself!