There are two words 27-year-old Jessica Cox refuses to consider. They’re two words that likely would have kept her at home in Tucson, Ariz., instead of showing her the world.
“I've been to Athens, Greece, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Guatemala, and San Salvador, Phillipines,” Cox says.
Now, the unlikely pilot is visiting Alaska, where she’s teaching anyone who will listen the value of ignoring the voice in their head that dares consider those two words: I can’t.
“I had a lot of different obstacles, but I think all of us do,” Cox said. “I think that's what limits us is using those two words too often.”
Cox was born without arms, and says if she had had told herself, "I can't," she would never have learned how to take care of herself and to truly enjoy life.
She’s also been able to overcome her greatest fear.
Cox is the only person with her condition to acquire a sport pilot license with no special modifications to her aircraft.
Her plane is a type that does not have rudder pedals. All aircraft motion is controlled using the yoke.
The Alaska Airmen's Association is sponsoring Cox's trip north so she can visit schools and promote aviation.
Earlier this week she spent a few days in Western Alaska villages talking with students who are building their own plane. But on visits like one to Eagle River High School, she doesn't spend much time talking about aviation.
“Flying isn't just the physical act of flying an airplane. It's about reaching a goal and being able to accomplish it without letting the setbacks or limitations hold you or prevent you from achieving,” she said.
Back in Anchorage, at Avail Alternative School, Jessica got 19-year-old Kandice Bartman to thinking that perhaps she's not alone.
“My father got deported when I was 15. I was on my own then and kind of made me think of the ways she had to go through challenges, with me going by myself with no mother and it was just kind of difficult,” Bartman said.
Cox says visits like this are her way of giving back, because she says she's been given so many opportunities. She also likes to solicit ideas on two skills she has yet to master.
“Put my hair in a ponytail and rock climb, so if you have any suggestions please let me know,” she said to the group.
Cox says it's not that she can't do those things -- she just hasn't figured out how.
She will speak Saturday night at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on the UAA campus.
It starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free.