A woman who made her first solo flight aged 16 and went on to train as a pilot on her 19th birthday is believed have become the youngest commercial airline captain in the world.
Twenty six-year-old Kate McWilliams, a rising star of budget airline easyJet’s crew, has been promoted from first officer to captain, a feat usually achieved by much older pilots.
She said she gets asked about her age by cabin crew and passengers almost every day and most are “impressed” to learn she has fast-tracked her way to the cockpit after taking up flying in the air cadets aged 13.
McWilliams told the Daily Mail: “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.
“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.
She is also one of the few women to be promoted beyond the rank of first officer.
Just five per cent of commercial pilots are female and last year easyJet announced an initiative to double the proportion of female new entrants to 12% over two years.
McWilliams joined easyJet as a first officer and recently took up the rank of captain after passing the airline’s command course.
Originally from Carlisle, she is now based in Reigate, Surrey, and works from Gatwick.
Last week she flew from Gatwick to Malta alongside Luke Elsworth, who earlier this year became the UK’s youngest pilot at 19 years old.