Recently, one of the youngest teams of commercial pilots flew a commercial airline carrier from London to Malta. Captain Kate McWilliams, age 26, directed the flight of a British easyJet plane with the assistance of a 19-year old co-pilot, Luke Elsworth. Last week, the pair successfully guided the commercial aircraft along the more than 1,500 mile route without any problems. They flew over the English Channel and France to land smoothly at their destination. The flight represented a personal triumph for the young aviators, who have achieved the distinction of flying a commercial airplane successfully at a very early point in their careers.
Pilot Kate McWilliams from Carlisle developed her love of aviation at a comparatively young age. As a 4-year old, she accompanied her godfather to an air show. The experience sparked her interest in airplanes and she resolved to seek a career in the Royal Air Force.
She joined the air cadets at the age of 13 and began flying small aircraft as a teenager. When she left school in 2008, no RAF recruitment positions existed, so instead 19-year old Kate McWilliams entered a Southampton-based pilot training program at CTC Aviation and studied to become a commercial pilot.
In May, 2011 she accepted a position as a first officer in the Luton-based easyJet commercial carrier fleet following her passage of the company’s pilot course. She began the detailed coursework required to train as a commercial Captain on April 25, 2016. Today, her delighted employer believes she may have become the youngest captain of a commercial airliner in the world.
Kate McWilliams acknowledged her young age in a discussion with reporters recently. She believes she has proven her abilities by undertaking and passing the same courses required of other commercial flight captains; she does not think her youth poses an issue in terms of her effectiveness on the job. She noted people rarely asked her age when she served as a first officer, but since her promotion she fields curious inquiries about the subject frequently from other crew members and, occasionally, from passengers.
Kate McWilliam’s recent flight to Malta will likely enter British commercial aviation record books because the combined total ages of the pilot and co-pilot totaled just 45 years. Earlier this year, her co-pilot became the youngest commercial pilot in the United Kingdom at the age of 19. The pair posed for a picture recently standing beside the easyJet plane they flew from Gatwick Airport (located outside London) to Malta.
The British Women Pilots Association has formally congratulated Kate McWilliams for her achievements. The organization issued a statement encouraging more young women to consider careers as pilots in the aviation industry. The group praised Captain McWilliams for providing an exceptional role model.
At this time, men predominate in the commercial aviation industry. Indeed, women hold just one out of every 20 paid pilot positions in that field.
EasyJet recently announced the company hopes to encourage more women to train to become commercial aviators. The airline carrier would like to increase the number of women in the cockpits of its fleet to at least 12% in the near future.
Kate McWilliams describes her daily work as “interesting”. Based out of Gatwick Airport, she flies frequently.
During the course of a month, she travels to approximately 100 locations, only rarely visiting the same airport twice. Her varied schedule offers variety.