Franz Oster
Collection of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Matzat, 11-22-04

Franz Oster
Tsingtao, China
     Editor's Note: The house in the background in the middle reminds me of the picture of the one Franz built. The view appears to be from a different point, but the architecture is similar. If the image is examined in detail, the large boat on the right has "Standard Oil Co." painted on the side.
Collection of John Oster, 11-21-07

by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Matzat, 11-22-04
     Franz Oster was born on January 19, 1869 in Bad Honnef on the Rhine, had training as a metal worker, came as a sailor on a ship of the German navy to Hongkong, where he left the navy. He went to Tsingtao in 1898 and started to run a small wharf and to put up a locksmith's workshop and a machine factory, in which he engaged about 300 Chinese workers.
Franz Oster
Dear Mr. Cooper,
     As a distant relative of Franz Oster I thought your web site on him fascinating.
(He was my Great Uncle.) Please enjoy the photo.
John Oster
San Pablo, California, USA

Collection of John Oster, 11-21-07
       In 1909 he sold his factory and shipyard to the German government wharf in Tsingtao, went to Germany, learned to fly there and in France, bought a Rumpler Taube and returned with it to Tsingtao in 1912. There he learned, that the engine (60 PS) was too weak. He bought a new Mercedes engine (70 PS) and had it installed, so he could make his first flight in Tsingtao on July 9 th, 1913.
     When war started in August 1914, the German governor Meyer-Waldeck asked Oster to make reconnaissance flights to watch the approach of the Japanese troops. But the 70 PS engine again was too weak. He made altogether three attempts, but couldn't get into the air. After each attempt, the plane dropped to the ground after a few seconds and was damaged, so each time the plane had to be repaired. After the third trial, the plane was totally wrecked and could not be used again. Plueschow also, although he had a 100 PS engine, always had serious difficulties getting into the air against the strong winds coming from in the sea. Once, he also crashed while landing and it took him about 10 days to repair the plane.
Franz Oster & wife
Collection of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Matzat, 11-22-04
       After the Japanese had occupied Tsingtao on Nov. 7 th, 1914, Oster was brought to Japan as a prisoner of war, where he had to stay until 1920. His wife and son Hans had remained in Tsingtao, so Franz returned to there in 1920. The house, which he had built for himself, had of course been confiscated by the Japanese in 1914.  
Franz Oster's home
Collection of Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Matzat, 11-22-04
        So he moved to a new address and built a new house in 1928/29 on Longshan Road 3. In 1927, the warlord of Shandong asked Oster to build an aeroplane. This he did in theTsingtao Arsenal. When he had finished the construction, the plane was brought to Tsinan, the province capital, by train. There the Chinese pilots discovered that Oster's plane was much too heavy and could not fly. Oster must have made some wrong calculations.
     Oster died in Tsingtao on July 19, 1933.
     Very soon, a Swedish author, Lennart Andersson, will publish an article (in German language) on that affair in 1927.

     If you search for "Franz Oster", using the Google search engine, (11-2-04), you will find about 69 links. The two cited immediately below are perhaps the most helpful.
Aeronautics - Gunther Pluschow
     This page on the ALLSTAR Network website offers a very complete biography which is well illustrated with numerous photographs. You can find his entry by clicking on the title above.
     If you will scroll to the bottom of the page, you will find a very informative message from a Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Matzat who was born and raised in Tsingtao.
Air Traffic Control Sri Lanka
      This website, which was a surprise to me, is dedicated to discussing all the issues related to aviation in Sri Lanka. Among the many sections which are available from the homesite, is one designated "HISTORY." If you click on that, you will access a page on which you will find the link: "AVIATION HISTORY." However, that link leads to a page "Under Construction." To access the page on which Franz Oster is mentioned, just click on:
Franz Oster
      If this page still exists, (it was available on 11-1-04), you will find a nice little photo of Oster's Bleriot and a short, but interesting biography.
by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Matzat, 11-23-04
      The Bleriot plane was built 1909, but came to Ceylon in December 1911. Oster was in Germany and France in 1911, where he learned to fly in Germany a Rumpler Taube, and in France he learned how to fly a Bleriot. In December 1911, he left by boat for Tsingtao, and on the way, via the Suez Canal, he made a stop in Colombo on Ceylon, where he made several test flights with a Bleriot plane, which were not successful. The question is: did he bring his own Bleriot to Colombo or had somebody there ordered a Bleriot and had that person asked Oster to make the first test flights ? After he had left the hospital in Colombo, probably in January 1912, Oster continued his voyage to Tsingtao, where his Rumpler Taube also arrived some day by boat

Liste der 817 deutschen Piloten vor Kriegsausbruch 1914
List of the 817 German pilots before outbreak of war 1914
      This website, in German, lists some 817 pioneer German aviators. Included in the list is #94, Franz Oster. He is identified as a "Fabrikbesitzer", (Factory Owner). His license was granted on 31.07.1911.       You can access the website by clicking on the title above.

     The following website, which is written entirely in German, was suggested to me by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Matzat, who was born and raised in Tsingtao.. I wasn't able to find it using Google, but Prof Matzat has kindly offered detailed directions as to how to reach the article. Sad to say, no English translation is currently available.
Tsingtau und Japan 1914 bis 1920
Historisch-biographisches Projekt von Hans-Joachim Schmidt
      I have written a biography of Franz Oster, who brought the first aeroplane, a Rumpler Taube, to Tsingtao in 1912 and made the first flights there in the summer of 1913. You can read it in the Internet on the website of Mr. Schmidt, whose address is;:
Franz Oster

      Once you have reached his homepage, you will find in the lower part of that page, a listing of quite a few titles. If you will scroll down slowly, you will a line which reads; "Wilhem Matzat: Franz Oster (1869-1933) - eine biographische Skizze". If you click that line, you will reach my story. Of course it is in German, so you may not be able to read it, but nevertheless you can scroll down the page and just look at the 2 photos. One shows the aeroplane, standing on the race course of Tsingtao, which was used as an airfield by Oster and later by Plueschow. That photo was made in 1912 or 1913.
With best regards,
Wilhelm Matzat

via email from Karl Josef Klöhs, 8-22-05
Hello Mister Cooper,
Franz Oster was born a little village named "Himberg". Today it belongs to the town of Bad Honnef, in 1869 it belongs to Königswinter.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Karl Josef Klöhs

I have no information as to the date of his death.

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper
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