David K. Campbell was pass riding with his family on Eastern Airlines while under the age of 18 months. His father was in the cockpit acting as flight engineer as the family traveled to see grandparents on both sides of the family. The captain asked David's father about his family then came back to get the oldest boy of the family, which was David, and brought him to the cockpit. Upon seeing his father in the cockpit, David declared to his father that he wanted to be an airline pilot when he grew up. From that point forward, David wanted to be an airline pilot. At age 10, David began a newspaper route, with the parental promise that he would be allowed to begin flying lessons as soon as he had $500 in the bank for college. It took years and help from other people, but David soon had enough before the age of 13 to start flying lessons at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in metro Atlanta. David would solo a glider at age 14 and eventually become a private pilot at age 19. While working as an aircraft parts employee at Epps Air Service, David completed his instrument rating and commercial pilot certificates and the flight instructor certificate. David would later return to Epps to pick up his multiengine rating in 1985. David would fly for Zantop International Airlines, where he was a flight engineer co-pilot and captain on the L-188, and USA Jet Airlines. While on furlough from Zantop, David completed a degree majoring in finance from Georgia State University. David then went to work for USA Jet Airlines flying DC-9 copilot for a year-and-a-half and was laid off after 9/11/2001.