Monday, December 08, 2008

World's first pilot to fly with just feet

Determined Jessica Cox has overcome her fear of flying and a profound disability to become the first person ever to pilot a plane using only her feet. The 25-year-old graduate was forced to improvise after a genetic defect resulted in her being born without any arms.

But Ms Cox, who holds a double black belt in tae kwon-do, has never let that hold her back. 'I never say, “I can't do that”. I just say, “I haven't worked it out yet”,' she said.

Ms Cox, from Tucson, Arizona, has now taught herself to write, type, drive a car, brush her hair and use a phone simply by using her feet. But the apparently fearless young woman used to be scared of just one thing – flying.

She said: 'I've been terrified and fascinated of flying for as long as I can remember.' However, she turned it into her 'ultimate challenge' three years ago after a fighter pilot insisted she would love it.

After overcoming the problem of buckling her seatbelt in the rudderless Ercoupe aircraft, she was literally flying. 'I'm in complete control and that is invigorating. I literally have my life in my hands – or should I say my feet,' she said.

She took three years instead of the usual six months to complete her lightweight aircraft licence but now she has it she plans to instruct other disabled people how to fly, too.

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