A British Woman Has Become The World's Youngest Airline Captain

Photo: Unsplash.
A 26-year-old British woman has become one of the world's youngest commercial airline captains.

Kate McWilliams, from Carlisle, works for EasyJet and is based at Gatwick airport. She joined the airline as a first officer (also known as a co-pilot) in May 2011 and was recently promoted to captain after passing the airline's command course, reported the Press Association.

McWiliams had a passion for flying from an early age: at 13 she began flying in the air cadets and for her 19th birthday went on a training programme at CTC Aviating in Southampton, but she never thought she would become a commercial pilot.

EasyJet said it believes she is the world's youngest captain of a commercial airline.

McWilliams said passengers and cabin crew ask about her age every day and most people are "pleasantly surprised and impressed with my achievement at such a young age", she said.

"Personally, I don’t think my age matters. I’ve been through the same training and passed the same command course as every other captain, so I’ve proven myself capable regardless of my age," she said.

"I do now get asked how old I am on an almost daily basis, which didn’t used to happen when I was a first officer.”

McWilliams, who now lives in Surrey to be close to Gatwick, flies Airbus A319 and A32 planes to locations across the world, including Reykjavik, Tel Aviv and Marrakech, the Press Association reported.

However, McWilliams' story remains the exception as it is still extremely rare for women to become commercial airline pilots.

Currently, just 5% are women. And passengers are still often surprised when they see a woman in the pilot's seat – more than 40 years after the first woman piloted a commercial airline, reported The Guardian.

EasyJet announced last year that it would seek to double the proportion of female entrants to 12% over two years.

Julie Westhorp, the chair of the British Women Pilots’ Association, said she hopes McWilliams' story will encourage and inspire more women to consider aviation careers. She said it was important for girls and young women to have "visible role models... when making career choices".

“Kate’s achievement clearly demonstrates to other young women that it is possible to succeed as a pilot in commercial aviation. We wish Kate continuing success in her career and are delighted that she is now an excellent role model for other females.”
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