Today in 1983, the birthday of a person who really can do it all: Jessica Cox, the first person born without arms to become a licensed pilot.

And that’s just one of her many accomplishments.

Cox’s parents put her in a regular school rather than one for kids with physical disabilities, but Cox said she often felt like she was overprotected as a kid, that people worried about her when she played on the playground and did other typical kid activities.

While she did use prosthetic arms for a number of years, she eventually decided not to use them at all.

Cox realized she could use her legs and feet much more effectively to do everything, from putting in a set of contact lenses to driving an unmodified car.

She’s become a certified scuba diver, a piano player and a two-time black belt in tae kwon do.

(In one of the news stories I read, the reporter describes her as wearing a shirt that says “Look Ma, No Hands”!)

It was Cox’s quest to fly airplanes that has likely gotten the most attention.

It took time just to find the right plane, since most models require the pilot to use four limbs to operate all the controls.

After finding that plane, and three years of work in all, she obtained her pilot’s license.

But she hasn’t stopped there.

The motivational speaker and advocate has pointed out that there’s a difference between flying a standard plane and flying one that’s built for someone like her.

A team in New Jersey has been designing and building a plane for Cox, known as “the Impossible Airplane.”

The controls are built into the floor so they’re more accessible for a pilot using her feet. .

And in keeping with Cox’s usual approach to challenges and barriers, she wants to fly the plane around the world.

The Quebec Winter Carnival is well underway.

This weekend, the carnival brings back ice canoe races, with teams racing their way across the St. Lawrence River.

If you’re in that race, you can’t say you didn’t experience winter at its most wintry.

New feat with her feet: Tucsonan, born minus arms, earns pilot’s license (Tucson Citizen)

Armless pilot gives students a look at first foot-controlled plane: ‘Disability does not mean inability’ (Chicago Sun-Times)

Québec Winter Carnival

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Photo by Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum via Flickr/Creative Commons