A WOMAN has become the fourth generation of her family to be a pilot in a line of succession she can trace to the dawn of aviation 100 years ago.

Kate Newton, 30, recently qualified as a commercial airline pilot, following in the footsteps of her dad Mark, 58, grandfather John and great-grandfather Hugh.

Like each generation before her, Kate told her family from a young age she wanted to fly as a teen.

Kate recently qualified as a senior first officer and has flown in the easyJet cockpit with dad Mark, 58, three times. Her grandfather John joined the RAF in 1949, following in the footsteps of Kate's great-grandfather Hugh who served in both World Wars.

Not only has Kate trailblazed her family's tradition into a second century of flight, she's one of only five per cent of female pilots with the airline.

Kate, from Portishead, Somerset, said: "Flying has always been part of my life - apparently I was telling people I was going to be a pilot when I was 12 or 13. "I was always interested in what my dad was doing and playing around with his flying stuff at home. "Having him and my grandfather and my great-grandfather as role models has given me someone to look up to and aspire to.

"I'm really proud to be continuing the family tradition - not just as another pilot but as a woman."

Dad Mark, who doubles up as Kate's colleague on easyJet, added: "I could not be more proud of what Kate has achieved in her life so far.

"It has been a rare privilege to fly with her and see her skills develop."

The family's flying dynasty began with Hugh Newton in World War I when he joined the Royal Flying Corps - the forerunners of the RAF - at the age of 18 in May 1918. He later served his country again during World War Two.

Great-grandfather Hugh flew Sopwith Camels, the flimsy biplane which was one of the original fighters in the earliest days of airborne conflict. Being a pilot with the RFC was one of the most dangerous roles in the war, with 8,000 men killed during their 15 hours' training alone. After the war he worked as a pharmacist in Yeovil, Somerset before answering his national's call to action for a second time, against Hitler in 1939. He served throughout the conflict and again was incredibly lucky, not once being shot down or injured, and died in 1974. But as the pioneer for his family he bequeathed a legacy of courage and a love of flying they continue to this day. After leaving the RAF at the end of the war in 1945, Hugh's son John followed him into service in the Spring of 1949.

He began at RAF Cranwell and trained on the Avro Anson XXI and Percival Prentice. But he was diagnosed with colour blindness and had a weakness in his left leg which meant he would never make it as a front-line pilot. Unable to face life behind an RAF desk instead of a cockpit he resigned his commission after two years. Daughter Deborah, 61, said: "His mother told him he had bought disgrace on the family.

"It must have been a massive disappointment to dad but he was a very pragmatic man and he got on with the rest of his life."

John spent 30 years in the poultry industry in Okehampton, Devon, and then ran an export-import company until he retired. He died aged 76 in 2007. But despite his own personal setback he never lost his love of flying which was inherited by his only son Mark. As a young boy Mark spent hours making Airfix model planes and it was one of his dad's proudest moments when he joined the Royal Navy as an engineering apprentice in 1978. By 1986 he was commissioned as a helicopter pilot and four years later saw action in the first Gulf War flying 'Junglie' Sea King Mk4s. The choppers, nicknamed after originally dropping Marines into jungle warzones, became legendary for their reliability and indestructibility - not one was shot down in 36 years' Royal Navy service.

Mark also flew them in Northern Iraq after the conflict during Operation Safe Haven, protecting Kurds from the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard and on humanitarian missions.

He later flew Lynx helicopters on exchange with the Army Air Corps and did two six-month emergency tours of Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

While there he was often based at the RAF's former St Angelo base in Fermanagh - where his grandfather had been stationed 50 years before him.

Mark became a Lieutenant Commander and served 21 years with the Royal Navy and a further eight years as a reserve.

He then continued flying as a civilian, firstly with British Midland at Heathrow and moved to easyJet in 2003.

He is now a Line Training Captain based in Bristol teaching the next generation of pilots to fly the Airbus A320.

To his immense pride and delight Kate, youngest of his two daughters, joined the same airline ten years after him.

Mark said: "I could not be more proud of what Kate has achieved in her life so far. It has been a rare privilege to fly with her and see her skills develop."

Like each generation before her, she had told her family from a very young age that she wanted to fly.

She had already made a name for herself as a rugby player, winning eight England caps as a tight head prop and she still plays for Bristol Bears.

In 2013 she faced the difficult choice between rugby and flying and decided to continue her family's proud tradition.

Kate is currently one of only 5 per cent of women pilots with easyJet, who have set themselves a target that 20 per cent of new entrant pilots should be female by 2020.

This has currently reached 15 per cent - up from 6 per cent in 2015 - via the Amy Johnson initiative to encourage more women to become pilots.