Armless pilot teaches kids to say 'Yes, I can'

Eighth grader Michael Sherbick concentrates on opening a drink can with his feet during an assembly featuring armless licensed pilot Jessica Cox Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Licensed pilot Jessica Cox, born without arms, demonstrates skills she has learned to accomplish with her feet during her appearance Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School. "The instant we say we can't do something, we set ourselves up for failure," she told the students.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Armless licensed pilot Jessica Cox teaches students that desire, persistence and fearlessness can lead them to overcome obstacles during an assembly Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Sixth grader Brad Jensen, foreground, and eighth grader Amer Fisek attempt to don T-shirts without using their hands and arms during an appearance by licensed pilot Jessica Cox Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School. Cox, who was born without arms and pilots airplanes with her feet, is also the first person without arms to earn a black-belt in the American Tae Kwon-Do Association. "She has some mad skills with her feet," marveled Jensen. Cox encouraged students to embrace desire, persistence and fearlessness.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Students watch fellow students onstage attempt to pull on T-shirts without using their hands and arms during an assembly featuring armless licensed pilot Jessica Cox Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Licensed pilot Jessica Cox, 27, encourages students to embrace desire, persistence and fearlessness during her appearance Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School. Cox, who pilots airplanes with her feet, is also the first person without arms to earn a black-belt in the American Tae Kwon-Do Association. "She has some mad skills with her feet," marveled sixth grader Brad Jensen, 11. Cox showed a short video before yelling "No, you can't!" to the students, who quickly learned to respond "Yes, I can!" "If you are challenged," said Cox, "there is more than one way to accomplish anything." Her week-long visit, arranged by the Alaska Airmen's Association with numerous co-sponsors, has taken her to Bethel, Scammon Bay, Chevak and Hooper Bay in Western Alaska and into several schools around Anchorage and Eagle River. Her final presentation is free and open to the public Saturday evening November 6, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at UAA.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Armless licensed pilot Jessica Cox teaches sixth grader Brad Jensen variations on a foot "handshake" during an assembly Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Eighth grader Naomi Schwartz concentrates on opening a drink can with her feet during an assembly featuring armless licensed pilot Jessica Cox Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School. "it was hard," said Schwartz. "My toes are not long."
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
As time runs out, eighth grader Amer Fisek, left, kicks a T-shirt into the air to catch it on his head and sixth grader Brad Jensen ponders his next move while attempting to don clothing without using hands and arms during an appearance by licensed pilot Jessica Cox Friday morning November 5, 2010 at Begich Middle School. Cox, who was born without arms, pilots airplanes with her feet. "She has some mad skills with her feet," marveled Jensen.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News

Airplane pilot Jessica Cox, born without arms, has spent the week in Western Alaska and in Anchorage motivating students to believe in themselves and achieve their dreams. Cox, 27, of Tucson, Ariz., learned to fly an airplane using her feet, earning her sport pilot license in 2008. She is also the first person without arms to earn a black belt in the American Taekwondo Association. Cox encouraged students to embrace desire, persistence and fearlessness during her appearance Friday morning at Begich Middle School.

"She has some mad skills with her feet," marveled sixth-grader Brad Jensen, 11, after Cox tied shoelaces and popped the top of a soda can with her toes.

Cox showed a short video before yelling "No, you can't!" to the students, who quickly learned to respond "Yes, I can!"

"If you are challenged," Cox said, "there is more than one way to accomplish anything." Her weeklong visit, arranged by the Alaska Airmen's Association with numerous co-sponsors, has taken her to Bethel, Scammon Bay, Chevak and Hooper Bay in Western Alaska and into several schools around Anchorage and Eagle River.

Photos: Jessica Cox Motivates