November 1, 2009

By Gary Vacin

SLAC Publicity Director


        Jessica Cox, the first armless woman to receive a pilot’s license, will be the featured speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) meeting Monday, November 16th at the Sun Lakes Country Club in Phase 1.  The meeting is held in the Mirror room which is to the left of the recreation desk and begins with a social hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by Cox’s presentation at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend this meeting.  There is no charge for attending.


        “We are extremely pleased that Jessica Cox will speak at our November meeting,” said Bob Walch, SLAC president.  “It will be her first appearance in the Valley since she received her pilot’s license.” Cox is a professional motivational speaker who has made more than 200 presentations through the nation and around the world.


        The daughter of an American music teacher and a Filipino nurse, Jessica was born without arms.  But that hasn’t stopped her from doing with her feet most things people do with their hands.  She can drive a car, type 30 words per minute, swim, scuba dive, and even change her contact lenses.  She earned a degree in psychology from the University of Arizona and has two black belts in TaeKwonDo. 


        But it is her accomplishments in aviation that got our attention at SLAC.


        We first learned of her in an on-line article on an aviation website almost a year ago.  A phone call later, she had agreed to speak at one of our monthly meetings.  A small organization, we have a limited budget and arrange for speakers on a pro bono basis.  This was no barrier for Cox, whose obtained sponsorship from an anonymous source for her presentation to SLAC.


        Interestingly, Cox had a lifetime fear of flying, a fact she mentioned from the podium during a presentation to a Tucson Rotary Club. A pilot in the audience offered to take her for a ride.  She took him up on the offer, and on Oct. 21, 2005 she experienced flight in a light plane for the first time, even taking the controls of the Cessna 172 for a few minutes.


        That experience changed her life.  “I set a goal right then and there that I was going to become a pilot”, she said. 


        She took a few lessons in the 172, but would be unable to solo the aircraft because of her physical limitations.  It was impossible for her to manipulate the control yoke, rudder and throttle at the same time.


        Only one aircraft would allow her to meet her new goal – an Ercoupe 415C.  This aircraft is unique  because it has no rudder pedals and can be controlled by a single yoke. After a lengthy search, Cox located not one but several 415Cs at the San Manuel Airport,  just 50 miles from her home in Tucson.


        Sitting cross-legged in the Ercoupe’s cockpit, she works the throttle with her left foot and the control yoke with her right foot.  She completed her first solo on May 11, 2008.  Five months later, she took her checkride and qualified for her sport pilot certificate.  This relatively new certificate allows pilots to qualify medically with only a state-issued driver’s license.


        Now that she has her pilot’s license, her next goal is to become a certified flight instructor.

        Additional information on Jessica Cox is available on her web site, 


        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 ( or by calling Bob Walch, president at 895-8869 or Al Galvi, vice-president at 802-0104.



Born without arms, Jessica Cox earned a Sport Pilot certificate in an
Ercoupe 415C.  Sitting cross-legged, she works the throttle with
her left foot and works the yoke with her right foot. Cox will relate
her flying experiences during a presentation to the Sun Lakes Aero
Club on Monday, Nov. 16th

Photo by Glen Davis





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