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  1. ITV Report

High flying Kate is world's youngest airline captain at 26

Kate McWilliams is a pilot for easyJet Credit: PA

A woman from Surrey is believed to have become the world's youngest ever commercial airline captain at just 26 years old.

Kate McWilliams says she gets quizzed about her age by cabin crew and passengers almost every day and most are "pleasantly surprised and impressed" when she tells them her age.

Kate trained in Southampton Credit: PA

She began flying aged 13 in the air cadets before embarking on a training programme at CTC Aviation in Southampton on her 19th birthday.

In May 2011 she joined easyJet as a first officer and recently took up the rank of captain after passing the airline's command course.

An easyJet spokeswoman said they believe she is the youngest commercial airline captain in the world.

Kate with fellow pilot Luke Elsworth Credit: PA

"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.

"Usually that question comes from the cabin crew but sometimes passengers ask too.

– Kate McWilliams

Miss McWilliams lives in Reigate, Surrey, and is based at Gatwick Airport.

She flies Airbus A319 and A320 planes to around 100 destinations, such as Reykjavik, Tel Aviv and Marrakesh.

Miss McWilliams recalled that when she was growing up she "never even thought it could be an option" to become a commercial pilot, saying that she "didn't know any I could ask for advice".

But since she began training she has "never looked back".

Just 5% 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.

Kate with 19 year old Luke Elsworth, the UK's youngest pilot Credit: PA

Last week Miss McWilliams flew from Gatwick to Malta alongside Luke Elsworth, who earlier this year became the UK's youngest pilot at 19 years old.