In 1983 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Jessica Cox was born without arms due to a rare birth defect. But this did not keep the Filipino-American from learning to live her life to the fullest.
“It was a long process. It didn’t happen overnight. I went through a lot of times when I said I wished I had arms or I wished that things were different. But I came to the point of acceptance right at the beginning of high school. And I said you know what, this is my life and I choose to be grateful for what I have and I choose to wish for more. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see myself as complete… because this is my life and I’ve been able to do so many things because I’ve been blessed with the family I’ve been given with,” she said.
Jessica has not used prosthetic arms since she turned 14. Using her feet as most people use their hands, she is able to do countless of things – drive an unmodified car with an unrestricted license, to type on a keyboard at 25 words per minute, to pump her own gas, and to put in and remove her
contact lenses to name a few.
She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Communications.
In 2008, she decided that she wanted to fly despite having a fear of heights. After three years of training, she earned her Sports Pilot certificate and was named the first woman to pilot an aircraft using only her feet – a feat worthy of a Guinness World Record. She describes the experience of flying as freeing. She flies a 1946 415C Ercoupe Airplane.
“My right foot is on the yoke, and my left foot is on the throttle. I use both feet, and I don’t have special equipment. I just fly the plane,” she said. “It’s a big challenge, but once you’re in the air it’s so empowering.”
Jessica enjoys gymnastics and swimming and currently holds the rank of Second Degree Black Belt and Trainee Instructor in Taekwondo. Cox also drives her own car and is a certified scuba diver. She later learned to surf while she was in Hawaii.
With all the things she can do through the help of families, friends, and a lot of belief in oneself, Jessica shares her story with people around the world. Together with her husband Patrick Chamberlaine, Jessica has been traveling to different countries to share her inspirational story and raise awareness on persons with disability.