Carl Max Hammond

Carl Max Hammond
United Flight 175

Used-Car Tinkerer

Carl Hammond and Carl Max Hammond Jr. had some of their best father-son talks while tinkering with the innards of a Mustang.

"I bought one used back in '67," said the elder Mr. Hammond. It needed parts, so I bought another — which needed parts. I bought another and another and another."

Max, who was 12, liked to tinker, too. "It wasn't long," said his father, "before he was the leader and I was the follower."

Max Hammond was also a leader in other ways. In seventh grade, he got into trouble for contradicting his teacher.

"She said a supernova was the birth of a star," Mr. Hammond recalled. "He said it was the death of a star. He wouldn't back off his position. He accused the teacher of getting her science from Reader's Digest. He got his from Scientific American."

Max earned a doctorate in physics and got a job doing top-secret research. But he still preferred talking about books or cars. "He wrote poetry," his father said. "He loved working with his hands." He was taking a welding course and learning to weld and form aluminum and thin metal."

Less than a year before boarding Flight 175, Max Hammond, who was 37, moved to Derry, N.H. He bought a little house with a big garage for the Mustangs. "The '65 Mustang fastback — a shell of a body — was first on the list," Mr. Hammond said. "Next was the Mustang convertible. He liked to learn about them and tinker with them. But he never did finish one."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on April 28, 2002.

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