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"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Solar-Powered Aircraft  
  A plane powered entirely by solar energy.  

I don't know who first thought of powering an aircraft with solar energy alone; as far as I know, working models didn't appear until the 1970's. So, this is a fairly early mention of the idea.

"Dad, I believe that you have been trying to develop a successful solar engine. One that could be placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface..."

"...the one big trouble with all solar engines, eliminating the obvious restriction that they decidedly aren't dependable for night work, is the difficulty of getting an area to absorb the energy.

From The Black Star Passes, by John W. Campbell.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1930
Additional resources -

The brothers Albert and Gaston Tissandier developed the first electrically propelled dirigible, first flown in 1883.


(Image: Library of Congress)

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Black Star Passes
  More Ideas and Technology by John W. Campbell
  Tech news articles related to The Black Star Passes
  Tech news articles related to works by John W. Campbell

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  - Solar Impulse Solar-Powered PlaneFlies!
  - Solar Impulse Completes Night Flight
  - VoltAir Electric Aircraft Concept
  - Transcontinental Flight By Solar-Powered Plane
  - Airbus E-Fan All-Electric Plane Now Ready
  - Caihong Solar-Powered Drone 'Atmospheric Satellite'
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