A British 26-year-old woman might have just become the world’s youngest commercial airline captain. Her co-pilot? He’s only 19 years old.
Kate McWilliams and Luke Elsworth flew from London to Malta this week, safely guiding hundreds of passengers to their destinations with the airline Easyjet, according to CNN.
McWilliams recently rose to the rank of captain, but her age isn’t the only thing that makes her a pioneer in the field.
There are just 450 female airline captains worldwide, out of 130,000 pilots internationally, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.
McWilliams first became interested in flying after going to an air show at the tender age of 4 years old, according to her employer, Easyjet. She joined the Royal Air Force’s Air Cadets at age 13, where she gained her first flying experience.
McWilliams first became interested in flying after going to a an air show at the tender age of four.
Years later, McWilliams would begin CTC Aviation training at the age of 19. Two years after that, she started working as a first officer with British airline carrier Easyjet, essentially working as second-in-command.
But her rise up the ranks wasn’t something she saw coming.
“I didn’t imagine a career in commercial aviation as I didn’t know any commercial pilots who I could ask for advice,” McWilliams said in press release from Easyjet. “I never even thought it could be an option available to me.”
McWilliams, who Easyjet says is the youngest commercial airline captain in the world, is currently based at London’s Gatwick Airport. She hopes more women will join her in the field.
“I would strongly urge females interested in aviation to think about pursuing a career as a pilot,” she told Easyjet. “And any existing pilots to push themselves to become a captain.”
With McWilliams as an example, some hope more women will be inspired by her story and go into aviation.
“It clearly demonstrates to other young women that it is possible to succeed as a pilot in commercial aviation,” Julie Westhorp, a representative for the British Women Pilots’ Association, said in a press release from Easyjet.