History of the Telemaster

The Telemaster was designed by Karl-Heinz Denzin while he, Denzin, was employed by Alexander Engel KG of Knittlingen, Germany. Older free flight modelers will recognize one of the design features which is the lifting stabilizer. Because of the lifting stabilizer, the usual balance point of "one-third of the wing chord aft of the leading edge" did not apply to Telemasters and modelers put the balance point anywhere from 40% of the chord to 50%.

At the time that the Telemaster was introduced into the USA market (guessing the late 1960's or early 70's) the digital proportional radio hadn't been invented and the usual control system was the reed system. Reeds required an airplane that flew itself a bit more than the later digital proportional required, so the lifting stabilizer was a pretty good match to the reed systems as the stab lifted a bit more when airspeed increased which caused the nose to drop somewhat and a more level flight path to be attained. This inherent stability also made (and still makes) the Telemaster a good trainer for beginning RCers.

The first Telemaster kits that were imported from Alexander Engel had conventional "D tube" leading edge wing sheeting. Sometime in the 70's (and the dates are hard to remember) there was a bad shortage of balsa wood which was caused by the building of huge tanker ships for liquified natural gas. At this time Alex Engel substituted Duracell sheeting for the balsa D tube cover. The Duracell was awful. We had a lot of complaints because the plastic sort of a hard foam cracked and broke when it was bent. So, future large Telemasters started to use wood stringers along the top surfaces of the leading edge. It seemed that these sub spars apparently produced a more even airflow over the wing and probably turned out to be an aerodynamic improvement.

Telemaster was a German design and the original Telemaster kits were manufactured in Germany, but the name "Telemaster" has no German roots whatsoever. Tele comes from the Greek and Master is an English language word. The airplane could have been called Telemeister, which would have been Greek and German, but it wasn't, and the reason is that Alex Engel was a huge admirer of the United States of America. Alex had been a German soldier, a radar operator during WW2, and he was the operator who detected the huge Allied invasion of Sicily. Alex was captured by the Americans and ended up in a US POW camp in Nebraska where he got an English language dictionary. He studied English and became an interpreter for the US government. But he wanted to go home to Germany after the war and he returned to his home in Knittlingen which is a small town just north of Stuttgart.

An interesting thing about the Telemaster is that it was used to run “pull strings”, used as pilot leads to pull guy wires and electric wire over mountain ranges and other natural barriers in Europe. As of late the Telemaster has also become a tool used by scientists to do different atmospheric sampling tasks and aerial surveying. Also the Telemaster has become a popular subject for testing of autonomous flight controls. So it is really amazing how a 50 year old well-designed model still is so popular and to this day is venerated as a great design and keeps being used in new roles.