By Jeremiah WAKAYA| @WakayaKE
How about taking a flight in which the pilot has no arms? Well, if you are lucky enough to have 33-year-old Jessica Cox as your pilot, then it will be to your amazement that a pilot with no arms got you to your destination safe and sound.
Jessica, the world’s first licensed pilot with no arms flew a single engine airplane for the first time in 2005 and subsequently earned her pilot’s certificate on October 10, 2008, after three years of training, making it to the most coveted Guinness Book of World Records.
The University of Arizona schooled American who hails from the state of Arizona, had just completed a degree in psychology with a minor in communications when she made her first flight. The obviously self-motivated woman could not let anything stand in her way to achieving her dreams hence she continued forging ahead with her ambition to became a pilot.
After completing her degree in psychology, Cox got an Able Flight scholarship through which she was awarded a certificate for an ERCO 415-C Ercoupe aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration; a flight built without rudder pedals but rather a rudder interconnected with the ailerons through the yoke. The unique design of the airplane allows Cox to control the yoke using one foot while the other foot controls the throttle. Her pilot certificate also allows her to fly up to an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea levels.
But this major achievement did not come without hurdles according to Cox. Many of her classmates used to scorn her at school as she was seen to be different. In an interview with BBC World Service’ Outlook show on International Women’s Day, Cox recalled instances where teachers would out of concern for her safety, discourage her from playing with fellow pupils.She also recalls instances where she thought her mother felt too sorry for her,something she said would have derailed her ambitions and the ability to overcome her physical limitation.
“My brain is wired to my feet,” said Cox in the interview. Due the constant activities around her limbs, Cox says she has gotten used to using her feet to the point of her using them to emphasize a point while having a conversation just like people with arms would use their hands.
Amazingly, Cox stopped using her prosthetic arms when she turned 14 and she since learnt to handle many tasks single handedly including the ability to drive an unmodified car with an unrestricted license and a record typing speed of 25 words per minute.
You can watch Cox’s story on a trailer of a documentary entitled Right Footed due to be screened in April.