World’s First Licensed Armless Pilot, Scuba Diver, Taekwondo Black Belt, and Adventure Seeker. Now included in the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Jessica Cox is a motivational speaker featured in outlets like Rome Reports, Catholic Sentinel, BBC News, and National Geographic. Her speaking career spans 18 years, 28 countries, and audiences of up to 40,000 people. The film about her life premiered at the Mirabile Dictu Film Festival at the Vatican, where it won Best Documentary.
Jessica was born without arms and uses her feet the way most people use their hands. Jessica grew up asking with frustration and anger, “Why did God make me this way?” Later, she learned how to see God’s blessings in her life and accept herself as a whole person.
Now, Jessica flies airplanes, drives cars, is married, and otherwise lives a normal life. She holds the title of the first person without arms to earn a black belt in ATA Martial Arts. Jessica is most well known for the Guinness World Record for being the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot’s certificate.
In 2022, Jessica spoke for the National Catholic Youth Conference with the theme, "To Him, you are enough."
Just some of Jessica's other accolades include:
- Top 15 Filipino Motivational Speakers, When in Manila Magazine
- 2022 Tucson Woman of the Year, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate), 2023, Universidad Santander
- 10 Best Pilots, Plane & Pilot Magazine
- Goodwill Ambassador, Humanity and Inclusion
- Certified Light Sport Pilot Guinness World Record: The first woman to fly an airplane with her feet was Jessica Cox (USA) (b. 2 February 1983) who gained her pilot’s license on 10 October 2008 in spite of being born without arms.
- Goodwill Ambassador Flight School Association of North America
- First black belt without arms in ATA Martial Arts
- Certified Trainer Instructor, Fourth Degree Black Belt, and Arizona State Champion in Forms
- 98th Annual Tucson Rodeo Parade Grand Marshal (2023)
Born in 1983 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Jessica has learned to live her life with her feet. There were many questions at the time about whether Jessica would be able to live a “normal” life. However, Jessica’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, Jessica became confident in herself as an adult and continued to explore the world with her feet. At the age of 14, Jessica earned her first black belt in the International Taekwondo Federation.
After graduating from high school, Jessica attended the University of Arizona, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During college, Jessica joined an ATA Martial Arts club and resumed training in the sport of Taekwondo.
Jessica’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, Jessica 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. Jessica gave Pope Benedict XVI her Guinness World Record medal shortly after receiving it.
In May 2012, Jessica married at St. Andrew Catholic Church in South Pasadena, CA. In the fall of that same year, Jessica 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 Jessica 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.
About Right Footed, the documentary
Jessica teamed up with Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker Nicholas Spark to begin production of a documentary chronicling Jessica’s life. Throughout a difficult childhood filled with bullying and heartache, Jessica fought for dignity and independence. She now works as a mentor to children with disabilities and their families in the USA and abroad, helping them overcome their situations just as her mentor once helped her. It is a story about the power of inspiration and mentorship and about how everyone -- those with visible disabilities and those without -- can find the strength within themselves. Right Footed won 17 major awards, including Best Documentary at the Mirabile Dictu Film Festival at the Vatican and Best Social Action Film at the Hollywood International Film Festival. Later, Right Footed was released in 80 countries on National Geographic.
Screenings of the film are available in combination with speeches by Jessica.
About the book Disarm Your Limits by Jessica Cox
Published in 2015, Disarm Your Limits is Jessica’s first book. It chronicles Jessica’s story of living without prosthetic arms, using her feet as other people use their hands. Using a simple aviation metaphor, she gives insight into how people struggling with courage, determination, and creativity can overcome their challenges. Her “formula for flight” is how Jessica achieved her greatest triumph: unrepentant regard and self-acceptance for herself as a whole person.