Jan 7, 2010

Amazing Filipina Pilot is back!

Remember my post about the amazing Filipina pilot, Jessica Cox? She was here in the Philippines! Fil-American Jessica Macabare Cox, the first woman pilot in aviation history to fly with her feet, arrives at the NAIA with her parents two days ago.
Some 10,000 feet up in the air, she navigates the skies using only her feet. Meet 26-year-old Filipino-American Jessica Macabare Cox, who was born without arms in Tucson, Arizona and holds the distinction of being the first woman pilot in aviation history to fly with her feet.
Cox has inspired people worldwide with her story of strength, courage and determination to rise above her disability.
Cox is in town with her parents, Filipina mother Inez and father William, and brother Jayson for her mother’s college reunion.
Her mother, who hails from Bobon, Samar, is a registered nurse.
“It’s great to be here again. I had been to the Philippines when I was 8 years old, when I was 14, one time when I was in college and in 2004,” said Cox in an interview yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“I have always had that desire to go back to the Philippines,” Cox said.
While her mother attends the reunion, she said she’ll take time off to go shopping with family and relatives.
“I love everything, anything in Manila. I love to have a pedicure here,” she said.
“I love Filipino food and my mom cooks it all the time. My favorite is pancit,” she said, adding she’ll stay for two weeks.
Cox said her family has always been supportive of her and never made her feel inadequate.
“Growing up my dad never thought of me as a victim of my condition. Rather he treated me just like he treated my brother and sister. Therefore as I grew up, I never once saw myself as a victim of a birth defect. Rather, I learned different ways of accomplishing all that I needed to in order to be an independent person. My mother, who is from Samar, always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do,” she said.
As a child, she said her mother always put toys by her feet for her to play with and enrolled her in gymnastics and dance classes when she noticed that she loved to tap her feet.
It isn’t any wonder that Cox is a super-achiever despite having no arms.
Everyday she lives life to the fullest - she cooks, eats, washes dishes, curls her own hair and writes and types with her feet. She also loves to swim, skate and drive a car.
Cox has a degree in psychology from the University of Arizona. One of her greatest achievements is to fly a plane. Cox said she fell in love with flying the first time she tried it.
“I didn’t always like flying. In fact it was my greatest fear. However, the first time I flew in an airplane, I was hooked and I haven’t stopped since,” she said.
With one foot manning the controls and the other delicately guiding the steering column of Ercoupe, Cox trained and through sheer determination, got a Sport Pilot Certificate which qualified her to fly a light sport aircraft to an altitude of 10,000 feet.
Ercoupe is a low-wing monoplane and one of the few airplanes to be made and certified without pedals. Without rudder pedals, Cox used her feet as hands.
“It wasn’t easy. I was a little nervous at first, but then I remembered my favorite words of wisdom, never let fear get in the way of your opportunity,” she said.
Cox also took three years instead of the usual six months to complete her lightweight aircraft license, had three flying instructors and practiced 89 hours of flying.
To all the challenges that she surpassed in her life, she credits her supportive family and strong faith in God.
“God is everything in my life and is always there throughout my challenges. His presence is even more apparent through the toughest of challenges,” she said. For people who feel they can’t achieve their dreams, Cox has this to say.
“The advice I would give to people with disabilities and anyone is to not allow your limitations to stand in the way of achievement. Approach your own challenges with creativity, persistence, and fearlessness. With them, the world of possibilities will open up to you,” Cox said. source


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