David started flying in 1977 whilst studying Aeronautical Engineering at Glasgow University. After graduating he joined the RAF and flew the Harrier GR3 in Germany before being selected for test pilot training in 1986, as an exchange student with the French school. In 1987 he was posted to the Fixed Wing Test Squadron at Boscombe Down, where he carried out some of the first trials flights on the Harrier GR7, Sea Harrier FA2 and Tucano basic trainer. He became Officer Commanding Fast Jet Test Flight in 1992 and in the same year was awarded the Air Force Cross for his work there.
In 1993 he became an instructor at the Empire Test Pilots’ School, becoming Principal Fixed Wing Tutor in 1994. In 1995 he retired from the RAF and joined Virgin Atlantic, becoming a captain on the Boeing 747 in 1999 and later on the Airbus 340.
David became involved in the Virgin Galactic project soon after its inception, having flown the Spaceship One flight simulator. In 2009 he joined the team full time as its test pilot, and becoming Chief Pilot in 2011.