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Glide Path

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  473 ratings  ·  33 reviews
During World War II, as an RAF officer, Arthur C. Clarke was in charge of the first radar 'talk-down' equipment, the Ground Controlled Approach, during its experimental trials. His novel GLIDE PATH is based on this work
Paperback, 279 pages
Published May 6th 2011 by iBooks (first published September 1st 1963)
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This is the sixth book I have read by Arthur C Clarke, as part of My Big Fat Reading Project and my study of the development of science fiction. The surprise was to find it was not science fiction but a scientific novel set in early WWII.

Flying officer Alan Bishop finds himself posted on a British RAF experimental base where a new use of radar is being developed called ground-controlled approach (GCA). The science was unfamiliar to me sending me to the Internet to learn the basics and terminolog
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it

Who would have thought a book about the pioneering days of RADAr and a young RAF officer would be so entertaining?

Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
During World War II, Arthur C. Clarke served in the Royal Air Force, and while he never flew a Spitfire in a dogfight against German pilots over Europe, his story was interesting and exciting none the less.

Specifically, Clarke's work in the RAF was with radar, one of the many new technologies which was first used in the second world war. This book is loosely based on Clarke's own work on Ground Controlled Approach (renamed Ground Controlled Descent or GCD in this book), a system using radar to t
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Having just gotten my pilot's license probably made me enjoy this book far more than I would have a year ago. But with that said, this is a well written fictional account of how radar equipment got its start in aviation.
An entertaining and semi-historical novel about one RAF officer's role in implementing an experimental radar-based landing system to guide airplanes to a runway under reduced visibility. The characters are fictitious but the technology is, apparently real. Arthur C. Clarke always tells good stories, but I feel his straight science fiction is more compelling.
Akshay Sankar
I started to read Glidepath on a whim, just because of Arthur C Clarke. The book was enjoyable, however, the tension built up throughout the pages concluded itself quite tamely. I expected more from the final few pages.

The attention to detail and strong verbal imagery are evident, as ever. A far cry from his regular science fiction environs, the bases described in the book were quite enjoyable to think of. It offered a glimpse into the lives of on-base personnel during the war, whose efforts, t
James Christensen
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Novel based on his experience as commander of the GCA (Ground Control Approach) system developed by the American physicist, Luis Alvarez, and a few others, but first implimented in Britain during WW2 - a rather dry read, but interesting look at how the system developed and the many lifes of pilots, not to mention their aircraft, saved by the radar "glide path".
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This non-science fiction novel reads like a fictionalized memoir of Clarke’s World War II experience as a young officer working on ground control approach radar systems. It is therefore interesting for anyone interested in Clarke’s biography. However, I am not sure how many of the details are accurate.
Bill Yancey
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not sci-fi. WWII. Fictional account of early use of radar for ground controlled approach. Great companion book if you read "The Invention that Changed the World"by Robert Buderi.
Nov 02, 2018 rated it liked it
OK story, but not what I expected. No sci-fi from the master. However, the story was still pretty good. I did enjoy it. Nice quick story.
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
As entertaining as the only non-science fiction ACC novel can be. Worth a read, but after all his science fiction has been consumed.
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Not nearly in the same category as Clarke's 2001; rather more summer beach time reading.
Its quick, linear and straightforward, not demanding the reader to probe for layers of meaning.
Phil Giunta
During WWII, Flying Officer Alan Bishop is reassigned from England’s Northern Coastal Defence to a new project involving the development of a new radar-based airplane guidance system called Ground-Controlled Descent (GCD). Its purpose is to guide military craft to safe landings during dense fog or inclement weather. Along with a team of soldiers and scientists, and a trio of Women’s Auxiliary Air Force operators, Bishop leads the testing of the GCD in both staged exercises and actual landings in ...more
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Arthur Clarke is one of my favorite writers of science fiction, so when I found Glide Path (New American Library, 1963) in a used book store I was pleased. The slightly garish cover art, so common to science fiction, promised something in the military genre. But the publishing house blurb on the back of the book talked more of Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and said little about the paperback I had in my hand.

The book was an easy read, without much complexity. Set in England during World War II,
Steve Walker
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a non science-fiction book from Arthur C Clarke and definitely did not have his normal "voice", but I thought it was a very good read. Set in WWII he follows one soldiers journey in the service as he learns about radar and becomes part of an elite team that develops a radar system that can be used to talk pilots down to the runway when they cannot see due to bad weather. They keep the pilot on the "glide path". A well developed main character, group of buddies, engaging descriptions of t ...more
brian dean
May 07, 2009 rated it liked it
The novel is about the first radar systems designed to assist aircraft in landings in poor visibility. This is a fictionalized account of what Clarke himself likely went through as he was involved in the project.

It reminded me of the movie 'Dambusters', another "Engineering project in the war" story, although that story finished with the bombs being dropped, a more thrilling conclusion than Glide path manages.

Still, I read the whole novel (it is 1970'2 sized -that is, under 200 pages, which is h
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I suppose that because I am from an older generation, I found this book to be one of Clarke's most engaging. It is definitely written in the style of its time, reminiscent of the pulp serials I read as a kid.

This story is about a young man, learning and working at a time of greatness, with some of the authors of original discoveries. I suppose I enjoyed it so much because I grew up in the time of the development of the microprocessor, and had somewhat similar experiences.

While the story revolves
David Szondy
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's the depths of the Second World War Flying Officer Alan Bishop, a fledgling radar technician, is assigned to a new top-secret project Ground Controlled Descent (GCD); a new application of radar that allows ground controllers to safely talk down aircraft even in zero visibility.

Read more
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not what you expect

It's a very good book but very different for Clarke since it strays from the normal sci-fi. The first 1/3 of the book was written in a way more technical manner than I personally care for. Almost clinically so. My interest was piqued when we got more into the personal part of the story.
David  Shannon
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beyond your typical Clarke story

Captivating story about the design and implementation of a guidance radar for landing aircraft during World War 2. The characters are personable and the description of the British homeland during war time is interesting. Loved it from beginning to end.
Paul Wooten
I'm not sure if this is a novelization of the historically accurate development of radar assisted landing technology during WWII, more of historical fiction or somewhere in between. It is definitely not SF, so don't pick this one up expecting it to resemble most of Arthur C. Clarke's other works. I enjoyed the story for the most part, although it did start to drag at times.
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of Clarke's few if not only non-science fiction novels. It was semi-autobiographical and was apparently inspired by his experiences as a radar specialist for the RAF during World War II.
Barry Haworth
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Science Fiction writer Arthur C Clarke this time turns his pen to his experiences as a Radar technician in World War 2.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A fun read. Not a very enthralling story but interesting to read about the beginnings of radar guided talk-downs otherwise know as "Ground Control Approach" or GCA.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Historical fiction set in World War II.
An interesting novel about one of the more technical aspects of the war.
I'll be recommending this for my husband.
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unknown
1975 grade none
1995 grade A

Not SciFi
Lee Belbin
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
History of radar, well writtten
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really a great history of the development of radar in WWII
Karl Kindt
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This might be the best novel ACC wrote. It's certainly the most human. It reads like nonfiction, a very detailed account of the development of ground control radar during WW2. I suspect much is autobiographical. No other ACC novel I've read has so much introspection and human nature throughout. The tech aspect is vigorously and entirely woven into the main character's life. Sad that his next novel was the overrated adaption of the movie 2001 that he made in collaboration with the overrated Kubri ...more
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Arthur Mentions Glide Path in email 1 1 Nov 02, 2015 03:18PM  

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Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of King

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