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"the [science fiction] writer should be able to convince the reader (and himself) that the wonders he is describing really can come true...and that gets tricky when you take a good, hard look at the world around you."
- Frederik Pohl

Electric Plane  
  An airplane powered entirely by electricity.  

I don't know of an earlier reference to the idea of an electric-powered airplane. Note that this is not a solar-powered plane, as described by John Campbell in The Black Star Passes (also in 1930; see solar-powered aircraft).

A white electric plane approached at great speed, high above the course. It flipped over on one wing, turned, dove, and passed over the cabin-plane where the other members of our party had been watching the race through the binocular telescopes, and as it passed, the beam of heat severed the control wires of the tail surfaces. The cabin plane started down in great jerks, as Joey Vincennes tried to maneuver it to the ground in spite of the useless tail...


(Electric airplane from 'Synthetic' by Charles Cloukey)
[Something flashed in the sun above and ahead of me. I looked up
and rccognized it as one of the new silent electric planes gleaming silvery white]

...he had a good chance of succeeding. The police planes were all on the ground. If Calvroon got one minute’s start with that silent electric skyship, the only thing that could catch him would be one of the racing planes, which of course had been stripped to the last superfluous ounce, and carried no arms.

From Synthetic, by Charles Cloukey.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1930
Additional resources -

The first electric airship was a dirigible powered by electricity:

8 October 1883: The first airship powered by an electric motor was flown by brothers Albert-Charles Tissandier (1839–1906) and Gaston Tissandier (1843–1899) at at Auteuil, a suburb of Paris, France.

The Tissandier brothers’ dirigible was the first to be powered by electricity. A 1.5 horsepower Siemens electric motor, turning 180 r.p.m., drove a two-bladed propeller through a reduction gear, producing 26 pounds of thrust (116 newtons). 24 bichromate of potash (potassium bichromate) cells provided electricity for the motor, which propelled the airship at 3 miles per hour (4.8 kilometers per hour).


(Tissandier electric dirigible airship gondola [1883])

The airship was 28 meters (91 feet, 10 inches) long with a maximum diameter of 9.2 meters (30 feet, 2 inches). Its gas capacity was 1,060 cubic meters (37,434 cubic feet). The total weight of the airship, with “two excursionists,” instruments and ballast, was 1,240 kilograms (2,734 pounds).

(Via Tissandier Electric Airship

Here's another illustration from the original story:


(Electric plane from 'Synthetic' by Charles Cloukey)

Compare to the solar-powered aircraft from The Black Star Passes (1930) by John W. Campbell.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Synthetic
  More Ideas and Technology by Charles Cloukey
  Tech news articles related to Synthetic
  Tech news articles related to works by Charles Cloukey

Electric Plane-related news articles:
  - Rolls Royce Electric Airplane Breaks Records

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