The Liberty Gazette
November 27, 2018Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Anyone who achieves a black belt in a martial art gets my attention. A person who earns certified scuba diver credentials is pretty impressive. People who master surfing I find quite admirable. A person who has done all three is in another league. And if that same person had accomplished all that and then earned a pilot certificate, I’d be blown away. When I met that person, I was not just blown away like catching my breath from a gust of wind. More like being blown away by a typhoon. Because this person, Jessica Cox, was born with no arms. And she has done all that.
Jessica blessed a large crowd the first weekend in November, celebrating the 25th year of Challenge Air. She came to demonstrate how she has adapted to life and is fully self-sufficient, and to encourage and inspire.
From the stage built inside the hangar of a flight school in Conroe, Jessica told the story of learning how to tie her shoes at age six. Her toes work like fingers and she has remarkable dexterity.
Figuring out how to tie the laces and get the shoes on required some thinking. She realized she would have to tie the shoes before slipping them on her feet, but it took hundreds of attempts to get it right. They had to be loose enough to wiggle her feet in, but tight enough to stay on. As she told the story she demonstrated tying over and over.
Linda: For those of us with all four limbs who tend to box ourselves in with ruts and routines, and expectations that life should be easy, Jessica has this message: Think outside the shoe!
One day after speaking to a group, a fighter pilot approached her and asked if she’d ever considered flying. At that time, leaving the ground was her greatest fear. A person with no arms has a different center of gravity and balances differently than those with four full limbs. Leaving the security of balancing on the ground was unnerving. And that’s exactly why Jessica decided she should learn to fly.
We watched as she went through the motions, talking us through how she gets her seat belt and headset on in the airplane. The first time it took some thoughtful analysis, but she thought back to when she was six because she was motivated to conquer her fear.
We won’t ruin the story by telling any more than that, because if you ever have the chance to hear her speak, don’t miss it. And, you can subscribe to her YouTube channel.
Jessica Cox is an inspiration not only because of all she has done, without arms, but also because of her genuine compassion. She is the most gracious inspirational speaker I have ever met. Be sure to see her website and buy her books. Her gift of encouragement awaits you there.