On September 10, 2001, David Champa, then a Delta Air Lines pilot, flew into New York from Brussels before returning to his Stone Mountain home.
Champa had been a Delta pilot for 23 years, loving his job. He planned to fly another seven before retiring.
But the next day, September 11, the clock started ticking on his last three years at Delta.
For Champa, now 61, the terrorist attacks and the domino effect on the airline industry prompted him to retire four years sooner than he’d planned. His wife Diane, a former Delta flight attendant, retired in November 2001. She works for the Gwinnett County school system. Champa received his Master’s degree in history and is now pursuing his Ph.D in history.
Today, he is an adjunct professor of history at Perimeter College, Clarkston campus.
The hard-hit airline industry was taking its toll on Champa. He got out a year before Delta’s bankruptcy filing. Then there were the added security precautions on planes, such as reinforcing the cockpit doors with a steel bar.
“It seemed like it was time to go,” Champa said. “The job ceased to be as fun.”