Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Fil-Am armless pilot says sky’s the limit

Manila Bulletin

A Filipino-American girl who overcame physical limitations to become the very first pilot without arms is in the country, carrying with her the hope of inspiring her “kababayans.”

Jessica Cox, a 26-year-old native of Arizona, gained fame in the United States after she earned her wings in 2008 and was given her pilot’s license by the US Federal Aviation Administration despite having no arms.

Jessica was born without arms and has used her feet in doing just about anything.

She arrived last Monday aboard a Hawaiian Airlines flight together with her parents Inez and Bill and eldest brother Jason.

After earning her wings and proving that she can achieve great things even with her physical limitations, Jessica became a motivational speaker and began inspiring people around the world.

Jessica is in the country for two weeks to visit relatives in Eastern Samar, her mom’s hometown. She is also scheduled for several television appearances while in the country.

“I would like to inspire and encourage Filipinos to do more things,” Jessica said. “I want them to realize, ‘Hey, if she can do a lot of things without arms, then I can do so much more with my life.”

Jessica’s mother exposed her to all kinds of normal activities since she was young. Jessica took swimming lessons, gymnastics, tap dancing and even Tae Kwon-Do where she earned a black belt.

“I don’t care what other people think; I just let her have a normal life,” Inez said.

Recounting how she got into flying, Jessica revealed how she feared it at first.

“Flying was my greatest fear in life, and therefore I was motivated to conquer my fear by flying a plane. It is one of my greatest achievements in life and I really worked hard for it,” she said.

Jessica said she spent three years to log in 89 flying hours instead of the usual six-month training to acquire her license. She was certified by the FAA as a certified Sport Pilot and was given her license after her successful solo flight on October 10, 2008.

“I hope my story inspires a lot of Filipinos. To inspire the people that have the same roots as I have is a great honor for me. The only limitations in our lives are the ones that we create,” she said.

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