sun lakes aero club
article in the january 1, 2010 splash
By: Gary Vacin, Publicity Driector
Follow-up article on Jessica Cox presentation
Jessica Cox was born without arms. But that hasn’t stopped this young woman from doing with her feet
most things people do with their hands – including flying an airplane and becoming the first armless woman to receive
a pilot’s license.
Cox described her flying activities and life experiences during a presentation to a large crowd at the Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) meeting November 16th. She took controls of an aircraft – a Cessna 172 – in 2005, but was unable to solo the aircraft because of her physical limitations. She found she could fly an Ercoupe which has no rudder pedals, and soloed in May, 2008. Five months later, she passed an FAA check ride and qualified for a Sport Pilot Certificate in an Ercoupe.
“At first, I found flying the Ercoupe physically demanding because the cockpit was so small,” she told the audience. “I sit cross-legged in the cockpit, controlling the throttle with my left foot and the control yoke with my right foot. It was totally awkward at first, but with practice, I got the hang of it.”
As with most pilots, Cox said landing the aircraft was her biggest challenge. “It was difficult to flare the aircraft because of the limited space,” she said. “I had to rock back and forth in the seat in order to gain enough clearance to pull the wheel back far enough to flare.
“Bob Metz, a friend of my instructor, came up with a solution. He placed a yellow pages phone book in the cockpit for me to rest my left foot on. That allowed me to position my right foot up high enough to move the control yoke back, flaring the aircraft. Then he installed a small platform in the cockpit, replacing the yellow pages book.”
Cox said she faced a number of additional challenges on her way to earning her Sport Pilot Certificate, including putting on her headset using only her feet. She uses her toes to check the oil, activate the push-to-talk switch and tune in frequencies on the radio.
Cox borrowed a shoe from a member of the audience and demonstrated how she ties her shoelaces with her toes. Then she untied and loosened the laces, then retied them, to the delight of the audience.
Formed in 1996, SLAC meets the third Monday of each month in the Mirror Room at the Sun Lakes Country Club October through May. Additional information is available by visiting the SLAC web site (http://sunlakesaeroclub.org or by calling Bob Walch, president at 895-8869 or Al Galvi, vice-president at 802-0104.
Bob Walch, Sun Lakes Aero
Club president, presents a pen to Jessica Cox,
guest speaker at the club’s November meeting. Cox is the first armless woman
to receive a pilot’s license. Photo by Gary Vacin
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