Woman Born Without Arms Learns To Fly, Travels Across Country To Raise Awareness To Those With Disabilities

ROCK HILL, S.C. — In honor of the 30th anniversary since the Americans with Disabilities Act passed, a pilot is flying across the country to raise awareness, making a stop in Rock Hill.

Jessica Cox learned to fly to overcome her fear of it.

“Flying is the ultimate form of freedom, empowerment, independence,” Cox said.

In her quest to find that independence, she never stopped to think about the odds stacked against her.

Cox was born without arms.

Today, she is known as the world’s first person without arms licensed to fly a plane.

“I spent my whole childhood flying commercially and I was just terrified of flying in the big planes, but then this opportunity came to fly in a small plane, and of course I was terrified,”Cox said. “But in that first flight, I made the commitment that I wanted to do whatever it takes to become a pilot.”

Cox weathered every challenge thrown her way, including finding instructors and being approved to fly by the FAA.

“They said as long as I could get through all the requirements of a sport pilot, and I could demonstrate how I could safely maneuver the airplane, they really were in full support of it,” Cox said.

Jessica stopped in Rock Hill for 24 hours on her journey across the country from Tucson, Ariz. to Kitty Hawk, N.C. And now she’s on her way back, raising awareness on the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We need to get the word out there that people with disabilities can do great things. Anyone can do great things,” Cox said. “They just have to have support and accommodations at times to be successful, so that’s what this trip is about. It’s about raising that awareness.”

On one stop in her journey, Cox was joined by Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa. Harkin was the lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities act.

Cox said there is still a lot of work to be done both in the United States and across the world to give equal rights and opportunities to people living with disabilities.