What did you want to be when you grew up? A firefighter? An astronaut? A policeman? The list of possibilities is often endless when the question is posed to a child. How about an Easyjet pilot?
At just 26 years old, British easyJet pilot Kate McWilliams has both achieved her dream and made the history books as she became ‘the world’s youngest airline captain.’
Kate’s passion for aviation began at the age of four, when her godfather took her to her first air show. At the age of 13, she joined the air cadets, where she received “plenty of flying experience”. On her 19th birthday, Kate joined the CTC, taking her first steps into the world of commercial aviation.
Kate was elevated to the rank of captain after passing easyJet’s command course, which she began on 25th April 2016. She trained at Southampton, before joining the British low-cost airline in May 2011.
However, this isn’t the first time McWilliams has made headlines, having previously made a name for herself flying from Gatwick to Malta with Luke Elsworth, who at just 19 years old, became the UK’s youngest pilot.
Speaking to the BBC, Kate described how people “are pleasantly surprised and impressed with my achievement at such a young age” when she tells passengers she’s only 26.
“Personally, I don’t think my age matters.”, the 26-year-old adds. “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.”
Originally from Carlisle, Kate moved to her home in Surrey to be close to Gatwick Airport, from whence she flies Airbus A319 and A32 planes to over 100 holiday destinations all over the world. This merit couldn’t come at a more suitable time for women’s aviation. As it stands, approximately 5% of commercial pilots are women, a figure EasyJet recently announced they plan to increase to 12%.
Chairwoman of the British Women’s Pilots’ Association, Julie Westhorp, hopes Kate’s achievement will inspire more women to become pilots, citing “Both the BWPA and easyJet are aware of the importance of visible role models for girls and young women when making career choices and continue to work together to encourage young women to consider a pilot career.”
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