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Jessica Cox, an American pilot with no arms has called on Ghanaians and society in general to see beyond the disabilities of physically challenged people to the other abilities that they have.
“I would urge people to be open-minded about what’s possible, to see that they have more ability. When I walk through the mall, people immediately see that I have no arms, they fail to see that I have very strong legs that I pilot a plane with, type on my computer with, put on my mascara with, or that I have eyes and even wear contacts lenses” she stated.
Ms Cox, who was speaking at the 3rd Annual Conference of Women Aviators in Africa, added that although it might take some time, once society learned to have that open mind, nothing would be impossible.
She encouraged women and Ghanaians in general to have a can-do spirit and mindset so that they could do anything they want to.
She stated: “There is nothing we can’t do, only some things we haven’t figured out yet; if you say you can’t do it, you have already set yourself up for failure but if you say you can, then you can”.
Miss Cox has been mentoring Lydia Wetsi, a sixteen-year old Ghanaian student of the Aviation Technology Academy, who is disabled in her right arm through electronic mails. Her arm was disabled after an infection from an insect bite.
Lydia was recruited into the Academy last year, had surgery on her arm and has since learned to fly and do about 90 per cent of her landing in spite of her disabled arm.
The Avtech Academy is part of WAASPS, leaders in light aviation in West Africa, building, maintaining and training in 2-and 4-seat light aircraft, from their home base at Kpong Airfield in the Eastern Region.
Ms. Patricia Mawuli Nyekodzi, flight instructor and Ghana’s first entry level woman pilot, said they were hoping Lydia would have more use of her hand after a further surgery in November.
Ms Nyekodzi, who shared her story with participants, said the academy was to help women, especially those from financially challenged background, who had a passion for aviation to learn to build aircrafts and to fly as had been done for her.
She explained that officials from the academy went round the various regions every year and chose prospective student who could not completely afford the training and offered them a 50 per cent scholarship although they were giving about 80 per cent to the three girls enrolled now.
“I believe women can do a lot more in this industry; they have the power to do more than men can. Qualities inherent in women such as attention to detail, passion and patience give them an edge over men” she stated.