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26-year-old airline captain and her 19-year-old co-pilot

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Their combined ages are just 45. But that didn't stop 26-year-old captain Kate McWilliams and her 19-year-old co-pilot Luke Elsworth from flying hundreds of passengers to their destinations this week. (www.cnn.com) More...

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Quidnon
Quidnon 9
I feel like I took some missteps along the way compared to these two. Congrats to them both.
RonBurgundy
Ron Burgundy 6
What a fantastic story! A couple of high achievers here, for sure.
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz 2
What achievements are you referring to? One like "Sully" Sullenberger's, an'old' experienced aircraft driver with glider and F-4 Phantom II xx hours or the total lack of experience and achievements as 'younger' crew of the Air France Flight 447 had? After traveling on commercial airliners 2++ million miles over the past 50 years, I still prefer some 'gray haired' crew up front in control of my destiny.
btweston
btweston 2
Oh, shut up.
bjohnson09
Bryce Johnson 6
26 isn't even close to being the younger commercial airline captain in the world. That said....most that are younger aren't flying a bus, but an RJ instead
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 5
There was a 23 year old DC-8 Captain at UPS years ago...
fastroper
Cecil Clark 4
...and there are 36 year old FOs flying for the legacies and majors here in America that won't see Captain for another 10 years. And Airlines wonder why there's an impending pilot shortage on the horizon?
zurismith
Zuri Smith 5
I'd much rather be flying with the legacies and their 'old crew' rather than the budgets.
devsfan
ken young 1
In your opinion is this due to seniority rules set by the unions? Or is that the legacies require many more hours to earn Captain status?
mbvillela
Marcos Villela 6
I've learned years ago that the recipe for an airline company successful operation was having new planes with old pilots. Never the opposite!
zurismith
Zuri Smith 2
Agreed!
RECOR10
RECOR10 1
Bah!!! You must have never flown in Central Africa!!! Oh, and drug testing? What ever...
pilot62
Scott Campbell 2
well one gray & one young one to take over if he has a heart attack
KauaiGolfer
KauaiGolfer 4
I personally prefer some gray hair on Airline Captains.
johnny9390
Johnny Oliveira 3
How old do you think some of those pilots are flying the most advanced fighter jets or C5 or B1-2 are? Most of those guys retire with less than 3000 hours total time! Why should an airliner be different. Good for them!
zurismith
Zuri Smith 5
You don't seem to comment on the training the military pilots receive compared to these two. Can't be compared.
johnny9390
Johnny Oliveira 0
Some comments here were talking about experience not training. Yes military gets fantastic training but they still lack experience
johnny9390
Johnny Oliveira 4
Look at the Asiana crash in SFO. Highly experienced pilots couldn't do a raw data approach. Tons of experience and lots of training. But not enough I guess.
TorontoJeff
Jeff Phipps -1
It was shown that the pilots did NOT have much training for this approach at SFO.
dee9bee
dee9bee 6
How much training did the crew need to perform a visual approach on a clear day to an 11,000 foot runway with ATC setting them up on a ten mile final? Yes, the glideslope was out, I forgot...
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz -1
Besides 'training' how about 'discipline'? What is the curriculum of discipline enforcement in the various 'Flight Schools for Airline Pilots' is another question.

[This comment was deleted.]

BaronG58
BaronG58 2
Never served in the military, huh? I remember many flights packed with soldiers(passengers).

[This comment was deleted.]

devsfan
ken young 8
I think you are just trying to get a negative rise from other posters. Knock it off.

[This poster has been suspended.]

RECOR10
RECOR10 -7
I wonder if he is one of the new immigrants to the US thanks to nObama....
KineticRider
Randy Marco 4
Recor10 keep your uneducated and ignorant political comments to yourself and your short bus friends!
allench1
allench1 2
that kind if comment does not belong on flight aware
BaronG58
BaronG58 6
No..soldiers sign up willing to die not to die. In my experience I never met a soldier with a death wish.
joelwiley
joel wiley 3
Have you noticed the policemen getting younger...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azzUuyN8SzU

If they can do the job, more power to them.
RECOR10
RECOR10 -4
The problem is, most police are terrible at their collective jobs, let alone cops that are in actuality still going through puberty. With age comes more rational thought...
devsfan
ken young 4
Ahh ...I respectfully disagree. Hiring young people has its benefits. Foremost is younger hires have no bad habits. The senior officers can teach them the correct way to do the job. The more time the new officers spend on the street makes them better officers by gaining experience.
I think pilots are in the same vein.
Start them young. Get them into the sky. Get them as many hours as possible.
joelwiley
joel wiley 3
may come rational thought, may come.
RECOR10
RECOR10 1
Very true Joel - very true

[This poster has been suspended.]

joelwiley
joel wiley 0
The song came out around 1984. Everyone around is getting older at the same rate, some of us just started before others.
brocklee9000
Taylor Jones 2
Okay we were discussing this in the office yesterday. I noticed that the 19 year old only had 2 stripes on his epaulets. Also, ICAO and U.K. still require you to be at least 21 for ATPL, so...how on earth was that kid the "co pilot"? Do they have some sort of second officer program a la Cathay Pacific, and he did some enroute cockpit monitoring or something?
RECOR10
RECOR10 0
Why do you hate children and opportunity? ;-P

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THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
LOL!!!
thomaslindow
Thomas Lindow 0
ATPL only reqired for PIC. Most FOs will have Commercial since the airline otherwise would have to pay for xtra simtime. 2 stripes reflects time in the company. Where I worked you got 2 stripes after 1 yr and 3 solid stripes after 10 yrs as FO.
zurismith
Zuri Smith 2
That's really bad. All the 'good airlines' require ATPL for ALL tech crew.
Rubiconned
Gary J 2
I'm all for equal and young getting Invokved, but I wouldn't feel comfortable as a passenger. Only dye to lack of experience in both real and simulation
Rubiconned
Gary J 1
Excuse spelling... Mobile phone response..
lynx318
lynx318 2
Nothing against a young pilot, male or female, but in today's planes with all the whizz bang tech they have, they just about fly themselves anyway. My worry would be what happens in an emergency when the tech fails and experience is needed, would hope at least the copilot would be an older pilot to back her up. Don't know bout everyone else here but at 26 I would be a little more panicky than I was at say at least 36+. Don't know how her credentials stack up but curious if she could fly an older plane without the tech?
Y2KRene
Rene Kunz 1
Would the Air France Flight 447 event/crash and the successful 'stick' wet landing by "Sully" Sullenberger not support your conclusion.
cuthbert31
allan howell 1
Great point and my thoughts jump to tragic Colgan 3407.
TorontoJeff
Jeff Phipps 1
Why is everyone hating on these two? Do you think air cadets train on A320's? Of course she knows how to fly a plane. One could even argue that kids now a days would be better equipped to fly glass cockpits that a 60 year old pilot is may not be used to digital information overload. I'm not saying that as a fact but simply putting it out there as a counter argument.

Personally, I think you have to take it on a case by case basis. There are plenty of older pilots who pound back a couple of scotches and go out an fly or are hung over etc. I want a pilot who is fresh and alert not jet lagged or bitching about their shifts, whether that be young or older.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
I get your point, but are you assuming millennials don't "pound back a couple of scotches" ?
TorontoJeff
Jeff Phipps 1
That's right, because millennials don't have taste. They only drink soy milk, craft beer and overpriced vodka. ;-)
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
Good point!!!
tcavin
tcavin 1
While these two are impressive, I prefer gray hair in the cockpit on commercial flights
ACI222
Alain Rustici 1
Félicitations !
lzrman
William Vavrek 1
good on them
akayemm
Er.A.K. Mittal 0
Age is just a number ... what ever be the case ...
And only 350 in a class as large as 130,000 ... what a pity .. reflects poorly on us .. men .
30west
30west 4
A.K.,

The "class" that you are referring to (worldwide airline Captains) is mainly made up a members that that were hired pre-1995. A more informative statistic would be the percent of women in current new hire classes at the regionals which is the primary source of most new hires at the majors. I'm sure it is less than the approximately 50% of the general population.

To increase the number of women hired, women first need to be attracted to learning to fly and acquiring the requisite experience to move on to an airline career. That is a tough sell, we read about the difficulty of regional airlines finding enough qualified candidates, male or female, to fill classes.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Just curious...what made you decide to drop the "Esq." ?
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
He wasn't using it. Mr. Hartmann was. They are on opposite sides of the world as well.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
Hm. My memory fails me then. I had remembered Mittal using "Esq." before Hartmann popped up on the radar.

[This poster has been suspended.]

AWAAlum
AWAAlum 5
How - you put it there. Why - is a mystery.
awsauerman
Albert Sauerman 2
Mr Hartman you posted in August and I Quote - Just for your info., I can trace my ancestry directly to the ancient ORDER OF THE RITTER BLAU ( German warrior knights ). So in that way, also, I am entitled to use the term "Esquire". In this post you indicate you are legally blind. If so how do you have over 45 years of flying experience and own an aircraft which you informed me of in an earlier post?
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
If you want to make a name change, select contact in the banner menu and click on live chat. They can take care of it there.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
(Psssssst, Joel, me thinks he wouldn't remove the "Esq." EVER, since he thought highly enough of it to include it.)
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
See your messages over in discussions.
akayemm
Er.A.K. Mittal 1
Typo
450 .. not 350
my apologies
dtw757
mike SUT 3
That's Captains not female pilots.....there are a lot more female pilots then 450. And it isn't the pilot group or airlines that are causing the shortage. It could come down to the personal choice of persons career choice. There are a ton of women pilots, (and Captains) in the Corporate world as well as the Military. \
paultrubits
paul trubits -1
You need 10,000 hours to get good.
dee9bee
dee9bee 7
10,000 hours may also be when you get complacent, though I read somewhere where it's sooner than that...
BaronG58
BaronG58 2
Seriously? 10,000 hours to just get good?
BaronG58
BaronG58 4
Paul....please understand I am not being confrontational. My point is Galdwell's 10,000 hour rule says "Key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill.", not achieving good. Many multi-year and thousands plus hour pilots would not put themselves in the class of the Chuck Yeagers of the world but are still proficient,capable,safe and very good pilots.
paultrubits
paul trubits -2
I guess I meant "as good as you are going to get".
tbpera
Tom Pera -3
yep.... don't like to fly with someone this young... like to see gray hair in the cockpit and military experience
paultrubits
paul trubits 0
If you like to read, check out Malcolm Gladwell's books. The 10,000 hours number comes from studying some very successful people(Outliers). It takes more than ability to get good.
TorontoJeff
Jeff Phipps 3
If you read the book, 10,000 hours is not to be good. 10,000 hours are required to be experts in your field. These are the outliers that outperform everyone else. I don't think anyone expects that a couple of "kids" are going to be or even need to outperform their aviation colleagues at this point.
patpylot
patrick baker -5
i might look twice at the infants in the cockpit, and wonder what this all means. They clearly got the tickets and the time, but not experience, but not to worry- they will get experience at the next five years worth of flights and passengers. When he can shave, perhaps he will know what he is doing. Their combined ages are 45, and their combined time is????? Whatever that number is, I would not be at ease with it. thanks easyjet for selling more train tickets for me in England.
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 3
At some point, every single pilot has the tickets and the time, but not the experience. And yet, here they are.
TorontoJeff
Jeff Phipps 1
That's ok, I don't like flying with nervous passengers ;-)
KineticRider
Randy Marco -1
This whole thread is full of discussion regarding the youthfulness of these pilots, lest none of you forget that WWII was fought and won by many pilots not even 20 years old. Some P51 pilots had only ONE Hour in type and a HIGH-time pilot had 30 hours.

How about John D. Landers who was commissioned a second lieutenant with 209 hours total flight time and finished the war at the age of TWENTY FOUR as a full colonel, commanding the 8th Air Force Group.

It's sad that people are so ignorant to facts yet post away based on their uninformed "feelings"!
Rubiconned
Gary J 2
A320 / spitfire = same same. .
tbpera
Tom Pera 3
yep...and when those youngsters screwed up and crashed they didn't take anyone with them... many did crash and never made colonel, let alone captain
KineticRider
Randy Marco -1
Tom what an ignorant, uninformed and wrong comment.

You either have natural skills or you don't age isn't relevant, clearly YOU are obviously in the no natural skill category or you would get it.
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
Your OP is an apples-to-oranges comparison. If the peacetime pilot training attrition rate was anything similar to the wartime one, there might not be a commercial aviatin industry. Your personal attack in response detracts from the point you were trying to make.
tbpera
Tom Pera 0
natural skills abound....common sense, good judgement, and experience matters
tcavin
tcavin 1
not sure this is a valid comparison....
z045909
Christopher Malawich -6
She has nowhere near enough experience to be a captain, No one would at that age. you need the ability to make Split Second decisions in the event of an emergency and be 100% sure of yourself. these skills come only with experience and years of it. not to take anything away from her accomplishment and becoming a captain I just don't think that 26 year old has the ability to command a commercial airliner especially a woman.
BaronG58
BaronG58 4
" Especially a woman." Really!
andyc852
Andy Cruickshank 3
UK Aviation authority have similar standards and requirements as in the USA. If she meets the standards and the airline (who have a very good reputation) believes she is capable then promotion should be awarded as it was. The "especially a woman" comment is offensive and certainly old world (try 1930s). Go back to your cave.
Highflyer1950
Highflyer1950 3
I think you should re-read your post, think about it and then come to the same conclusion that every educated man woman and child would conclude. Natural pilots, excellent descision makers, pilots who use common sense, don't panic, follow their training, pilots who actually logged the hours in their logbook, these are the best of the best male or female. AND, you do take something away from someone's accomplishment with your silly, immature and idiotic comments.
joelwiley
joel wiley 1
So you are saying she lacks the 'right stuff'? Captain Lee Kang Kuk had 9,793 hours of flying experience when he hit the SSFO seawall with Asiana 214. I guess experience isn't necessarily everything. Nor gender.
THRUSTT
THRUSTT 1
Wasn't that Sum Ting Wong?

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