Virginia plane crash pilot’s friends remember Carmel man: ‘He’ll certainly be missed’

Friends of the pilot who was killed in a Virginia crash, remember the Carmel man who loved aviation. (Provided Photo/John Joyce)

FISHERS, Ind (WISH) – Days after a Carmel man died in a plane crash, his aviator friends are trying to cope with what happened.

John Joyce visited the Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport Wednesday, and couldn’t hold back his emotions when he thought of his friend. “Just absolutely devastated,” Joyce said.

Last week, Virginia State Police said William Hamerstadt, 64 of Carmel, was trying to land when the plane crashed, killing all six people on board.

Before his name was released, Joyce feared the worst.

“The aviation community is a very small community, and pretty much we all know everybody, and we didn’t dream it was “Hammer,” as his nickname is, but it’s going to be a tough one,” Joyce said.

After taking a ride in his, William Hamerbradt's friend, John Joyce, said he bought his own Scottish Bulldog warbird. (Courtesy: John Joyce)
After taking a ride in his, William Hamerbradt’s friend, John Joyce, said he bought his own Scottish Bulldog warbird. (Courtesy: John Joyce)

It’s difficult because the pair had grown close. “He’s just one of those guys that spends countless hours out here at the hanger, as we call hanger flight,” Joyce said.

When he was in the air, Joyce said Hamerstadt was usually in his 1972 Scottish Bulldog. “I had bulldog when I met him,” Joyce said. “He asked for a flight in it. Next thing you know, he’s selling his O2-twin.”

Hamerstadt had another love: the military. He spent more than 30 years with the U.S. Marine Corps.

“He just had a passion for it,” Joyce said. “He wanted to share aviation with the general community, with his fellow marines.”

As Joyce waits for answers, he knows visits to the hanger won’t be the same. “He was just such an outgoing guy that just loved to share his love for aviation with other people,” Joyce said. “He’ll certainly be missed.”

Leppert Mortuary and Crematory Services is preparing for Hamerstadt’s final arrangements. Although employees said none have been made aware at this point because the family is awaiting the body to be returned from the coroner.

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