Armless Pilot Proves Her Capabilities


Jessica Cox, of Tucson, Ariz., was born without arms, but she hasn’t let that define her role in life, and last week she scored a first when she earned her Sport Pilot certificate using only her feet to manipulate the controls of an Ercoupe. “I highly encourage people with disabilities to consider flying,” Cox said. “It helps reverse the stereotype that people with disabilities are powerless into the belief that they are powerful and capable of setting high goals and achieving them.” Cox, who is 25, won an Able Flight scholarship and trained with instructor Parrish Traweek in his Ercoupe 415C. “What is most incredible about Able Flight is the relentless faith and support not only from the board but also from the other pilots who have succeeded in the program,” Cox said. “Thank you, Able Flight, for helping me make history as the first licensed pilot to fly with only her feet!” Since the Ercoupe design has no rudder pedals, no special modifications were required for Cox to fly it.

The rudder and aileron systems are linked, and both are controlled with a single control yoke. The yoke also controls nosewheel steering on the ground. Cox also drives a car and types on a computer using her feet. She works as a motivational speaker and is writing a book about her life.