COUNTY NEWS: Gatwick pilot becomes UK’s youngest ever female captain

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An easyjet pilot has become the UK’s youngest ever female captain, the airline says.

Kate McWilliams, who is based at Gatwick airport, has made captain at just 26 years old after passing her command course.

“I love being a commercial pilot for easyJet, and I am proud that I have now achieved my ambition of becoming a captain,” said Captain McWilliams.

“I would strongly urge females interested in aviation to think about pursuing a career as a pilot, and any existing pilots to push themselves to become a captain.”

Her love for aviation began at the young age of four, when she was taken to her first air show by her godfather.

Captain McWilliams joined CTC Aviation on her 19th birthday and then moved to easyJet in May 2011 as a first officer, beginning her command course on 25th April 2016.

“I didn’t imagine a career in commercial aviation as I didn’t know any commercial pilots who I could ask for advice. I never even thought it could be an option available to me,” she added.

According to easyjet only 5% of commercial pilots in the industry are female and last year the company announced an initiative to change this by doubling the proportion of female new entrants to 12% over two years.

This was implemented to encourage the development of female pilots at all ranks and positions and will widen the pipeline of women who enter their pilot community, the airline says.

easyJet hopes that the Kate’s success and fulfilment of her dream will inspire other women to consider a career as a pilot.

Julie Westhorp, chairwoman of the British Women Pilots’ Association, said:

‘The British Women Pilots’ Association congratulates Kate and hope that her achievement inspires more women to consider pursuing a career in aviation.

“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.

“Kate’s achievement clearly demonstrates to other young women that it is possible to succeed as a pilot in commercial aviation.”

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