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Armless pilot finds opportunity in the sky

  • Story Highlights
  • Jessica Cox, 25, was born with no arms
  • Accustomed to not having arms, she decided against using prosthetics
  • Cox is a certified pilot, black belt in tae kwon do and licensed driver
  • Her advice: Don't let fear stand in the way of opportunity
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Even though she was born without arms, Jessica Cox never says "can't."

Cox was born with a congenital birth defect, but her sonogram didn't show she had no arms.

Jessica Cox, 25, uses her life story to inspire young people to face challenges head-on.

She was determined to become a pilot, and she did.

Not only has she mastered flying with her feet, but she also earned a black belt in tae kwon do and can legally drive a car.

Cox also conquered otherwise mundane challenges like putting in contacts, text messaging, and applying makeup.

Instead of saying she can't do something, Cox prefers to say, "I haven't figured it out yet." Video Watch more of the interview with Jessica Cox »

CNN's Nicole Lapin spoke to Cox about her determination to overcome obstacles. The following is an edited transcript of the interview:

Nicole Lapin: [Your dad] said to us he never shed a tear for you.

Jessica Cox: He never saw me as a victim. I never had that as an excuse, that I was a victim of my condition. This is just who I am and I'm not a victim of anything.

Lapin: We have a question from our Web site that said, "What motivated you to become a pilot, Jessica?"

Cox: Actually, flying was my greatest fear. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Identify your greatest fear and walk directly at it." And that's how it has been for me as a student pilot and learning how to fly an airplane.

The first time, a fighter pilot, he came up and asked me if I would like to fly, and I didn't answer right away because it was my fear. But, when [someone] offered to take me up in a Cessna for the first time, I thought about it for a while and said what great opportunity, to attempt to fly an airplane.

Lapin: You use your right foot on the throttle, left foot on the yoke and up you go.

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Cox: Yes.

Lapin: We have another question in from [a viewer] who wants to know, "What do you think could be different if you had both arms?" You wouldn't want anything different?

Cox: I mean, I would have a whole different life. So there is really no way to know where to start on that, because this is my life and I wouldn't trade it for the world, to be honest with you. And so, to think about that, I don't even know if I'd want to waste the time to even think about how my life would be different, because I enjoy it as it is now.

Lapin: What kind of advice would you give young people today?

Cox: Well, I think that it's important to not allow our fears to stand in the way of our opportunities. And for me, I had this great fear of flying. And I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Three and a half years later, after confronting my fear and saying I'm going to do it anyway, I'm now certified.

[However] just because you confront your fear doesn't necessarily mean that you can overcome it, because I still have a little bit of fear, and fear is a good thing.


Lapin: We all do.

Cox: Yes. So, I think that it is important not to allow our fear to stand in the way of any opportunity and stand in the way of achieving whatever we set out to accomplish.

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