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Jessica Cox          

World's First Armless Pilot & First Armless Black-Belt in the American Taekwondo Association

Jessica Cox is recognized internationally as an inspirational keynote speaker. Born without arms, Cox now flies airplanes, drives cars, and otherwise lives a normal life using her feet as others use their hands. She holds the title of the first person without arms to earn a black belt in ATA Martial Arts and the Guinness World Record for being the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot’s certificate. Convinced that the way we think has a greater impact on our lives than our physical constraints, Cox chose to pursue a degree in psychology at the University of Arizona. Since then she has traveled to 26 countries on six continents sharing her inspirational message.

Born in 1983 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Cox has learned to live her life with her feet. There were many questions at the time about whether Cox would be able to live a “normal” life. However, Cox’s father has said he never shed a tear about her birth condition. He had full confidence in her potential. With the support of her parents and family, Cox became confident in herself as an adult and continued to explore the world with her feet.

Cox’s parents eventually met a Taekwondo instructor named Jim Cunningham. His response, when told of Cox’s birth condition, was that she would be more than physically able to participate and that only her attitude could hold her back. At the age of 14, Cox earned her first black belt in the International Taekwondo Federation.

After graduating from high school, Cox attended the University of Arizona, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. When talking about her degree, she frequently explains that psychology credits the way people think with having a greater impact on their lives than a physical limitation.

During college, Cox joined an ATA Martial Arts club and resumed training in the sport of Taekwondo. Even though Cox already had one black belt in a different style, she had to relearn all new material for the ATA system. The instructors created a standardized curriculum that would be accessible to any future armless students. Cox then became the first armless person to earn a black belt in the ATA.

Cox’s most famous accomplishment was learning how to fly. It took three states, four airplanes, three flight instructors, and three years to find the right aircraft: a 1946 415C Ercoupe Airplane. In 2008 Cox earned her Light Sport Pilot Certificate. She received the Guinness World Record for being the first person certified to fly an airplane with only their feet in 2011.

In May 2012, Cox married in the beautiful city of South Pasadena, CA. In the fall of that same year, Cox became a Goodwill Ambassador for Humanity and Inclusion, a Nobel Peace Prize winning NGO and advocated for disability rights in Ethiopia, the Philippines, Nepal, and the US Senate.

Flying continues to be a passion for Cox as she attends many of the largest aviation events in the world. Along the way, she has been recognized for numerous awards including Inspiration International from the Inspiration Awards for Women, UK, and a distinguished speaker award from Egypt’s President at the World Youth Forum in 2019.

In 2019, a generous fan donated a 1946 415C Ercoupe with tail number N26R (“two-six-romeo”) for Cox’s use. With an 85 horsepower engine, two seats for pilot and a copilot/passenger, a cruising speed around 90 miles per hour, and a flying time a little over three hours, N26R is a fair weather airplane designed primarily for local daytime flights. Despite the performance limitations, Cox plans to fly N26R to airshows across the USA to show that “disability does not mean inability.”

Speech Topics

Achieve the Impossible

Innovation, Creativity, Motivation, Desire, Persistence, Fearlessness, Aviation, "Think outside the shoe"


Woman Born Without Arms Tells 3-Year-Old with Same Condition, 'You Can Do Anything'
Jessica Cox was born without arms, and she hasn't let that hold her back in life. If anything, Cox has achieved more than the average person: She has a black belt in Taekwondo, she has her pilot's license, and she's an excellent pianist. And she's done it all without using prosthetic arms. Cox, 32, is also the subject of a new documentary, Right-Footed, and at the premiere on Friday, Cox met 3-year-old Ruth Evelyn "RE" Pranke, who was also born without arms. In the above video, Cox autographs a poster for the girl, grasping the pen with her foot but writing with immaculate penmanship, "You can do anything."
Powerful Lineup of Speakers on Tap for WAI 2016 Annual Conference in Nashville
Megan Barry, the Mayor of Nashville, will join astronauts Dr. Rhea Seddon and Robert “Hoot” Gibson as each connects, engages, and inspires attendees at the 27th annual International Women in Aviation Conference, March 10-12, 2016, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Jessica Cox, world's first armless pilot and motivational speaker.
This armless woman can literally kick your ass | New York Post
Jessica Cox is more than just an armless pilot. She also is the first person without arms to become a black belt in the American Tae Kwon Do Association, ...
Apl, Jessica Cox honored for helping Yolanda survivors
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Filipino-American armless pilot Jessica Cox and international entertainer were recognized by the Philippine Embassy for donating their time and resources in helping in the recovery efforts in areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda. Cox received a plaque of achievement for her excellence in motivational speaking and her advocacy for the disabled. She has partnered with Handicap International to help those who were disabled during Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation...
Photos: Tucson woman Jessica Cox takes message of hope around the world
A Tucson woman born with no arms is taking a message to impoverished and post-conflict countries, where people with physical impairments are often shunned and prevented from going to school. Jessica Cox, 30, traveled to Ethiopia this year as a guest of Handicap International, an aid organization that focuses on disabled children. Cox has been a full-time motivational speaker since graduating from the University of Arizona in 2005 and is increasingly focusing her attention on disability issues in impoverished countries. She recently visited Ghana, where she met people forced to the lowest tier of society because of their physical differences. Take a look at the gallery to view photos of Jessica throughout the years.
Armless Woman Conquers the Unthinkable
Jessica Cox was born without arms, yet triumphs over obstacles every day. While some would accept that playing piano is not in the cards for them, Jessica refuses to let her disability hold her back in any way. Putting in contacts, eating with chopsticks, and even using nunchucks all seem like unlikely tasks for Jessica, but she does them all, just with her toes. Defying all odds, Jessica took to the skies and was named the first armless person in the world to obtain a pilot's license.
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Jessica Cox: I used to be afraid to fly
She has received global recognition for being the first woman to fly an airplane with her feet, but Jessica Cox, the Filipino-American who has been cited by Guinness World Records for her exceptional ability, yesterday admitted her skill was borne out of fear. According to Cox, she used to be afraid to fly. But with a strong faith in God, she challenged herself to face her biggest nightmare. After three states, four airplanes, two flight instructors and a discouraging year to find the right aircraft – a 1946 415C Ercoupe Airplane – she finally made it.
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