Hand Transplant Restores Flying Dream


As the aviation industry looks for ways to make becoming a pilot easier, a 28-year-old New Jersey woman is proving there are few barriers to someone who really wants to fly. As NBC 40 reported last week, Jessica Arrigo caught a virus when she was seven that cost her both legs and hands. She’s had prosthetic legs for 20 year and a few years ago, she received a hand transplant; now she’s working toward her PPL. “I was like, I could do that, I could fly a plane, why not?” she told the TV station.

Overcoming challenges is nothing new to Arrigo, and Dennis Renauro, chief flight instructor at Big Sky Aviation in Millville, N.J., says it’s serving her well in flight training. “She has a willpower that is much stronger than the average person,” said Renauro. “She seems to be able to find her way around the airplane better than most people.” Renauro predicts she’ll have her ticket in close to the minimum 40 hours. Like most student pilots, Arrigo finds flight training a challenge. “It’s not a piece of cake, but it doesn’t make me nervous, not at all,” she said.