Shortly after the grounds of Bryan Air Force Base were annexed to Texas A&M College in the spring of 1962, a Houston company moved into one of the hangars on site, ultimately bringing with it an aircraft that looked like, for all practical purposes, a “flying saucer.”
The July 23, 1962, edition of The Bryan Daily Eagle reported that “(o)fficials of the Astro-Kinetic Corp(oration), designers of a flying saucer-like vehicle scheduled to be tested and built in Bryan, arrived here this morning predicting to have the craft in the air in two months.
“Speaking at the Texas A&M Research Annex (old Bryan Air Force Base), W. Fremont Burger, president of the corporation, said he hopes to have the odd-shaped vertical take-off craft in free flight within 120 to 180 days.
“The contraption, which consists of a helicopter-like body and bowl-shaped fiberglass “wing,” will be tested by Richard B. Fielder.
“'I’m going to get a real thrill out of this,' said the veteran pilot. 'It’s something brand new.'”
Less than four months later in early November 1962, Burger introduced the aircraft–which at the time he called the “Astro-Kinetic Lift” to members of the Texas media at what is now the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s research hangar along the RELLIS Campus flight line. Burger, told reporters the “flying crane” had suffered a recent mechanical failure which had prevented it from attaining “tethered flight” within the hangar structure.
Arlen Crouch was new to the Bryan area at the time, but he had a keen interest in Burger’s flying machine. It was an engine of his creation that was affixed to the aircraft to power its intended assent.
See video footage of the Astro-Kinetic Lift on the KRTH-TV, Houston, website here.
Arlen Crouch was born in Iowa and raised in Illinois. After serving four years in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, Crouch returned to Illinois and became a racing-boat enthusiast and outboard-engine designer and builder. He and his wife, Marjorie, moved to Bryan, Texas, in 1962, and started Bryan Marine, building engines and servicing and selling boats and boat motors. Crouch retired from the company in 2002, Bryan Marine is still owned and operated by two of his sons. Arlen and Marjorie are enjoying retirement at Bryan’s Arbor Oaks Retirement Community.