Everybody likes a healthy dose of competition, right? And watching it play out on the big screen is even better! Top Gun was released in 1986 and had everything–action, romance, competitiveness, dizzying aerial moves, and more. But where was Top Gun filmed? It’s easy to mistake the background for a number of military bases around the country. But there’s only one military base that is home to the Top Gun School.

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Where Was Top Gun Filmed?

The main location for the movie was Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California. Other filming locations included El Centro Naval Air Facility in Imperial County, California and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona. Additionally, some scenes were shot on a soundstage at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California. The iconic shots of the fighter jets flying in front of a sunset were filmed at Lake Elsinore, California.

What Was Top Gun All About?

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The movie Top Gun is an action-filled drama about a group of Navy fighter pilots competing to be the best in their class and win the elite “Top Gun” trophy. The main character, Maverick, is an impulsive daredevil pilot that relies only on himself at the highly competitive fighter school. He manages to let his guard down and open his heart to the female flight instructor after his partner is killed during a flight training exercise.

Who Was In The Cast of Top Gun?

The cast of Top Gun includes:

  • Tom Cruise
  • Kelly McGillis
  • Val Kilmer
  • Anthony Edwards
  • Meg Ryan
  • Tim Robbins
  • and Tom Skerritt

All the actors had to go through a rigorous training program in order to be able to act out their roles accurately and safely.

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Who Directed Top Gun? 

Top Gun was directed by Tony Scott and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Toby Scott had a long history of directing action and thriller films that also include Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, and Days of Thunder.

Did Top Gun Receive Any Awards? 

This was an incredibly successful movie. It was produced with an estimated budget of $15 million and grossed $357.3 million worldwide. 

Top Gun won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, as well as several other awards, including Best Editing at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards.

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Technical Information

This movie runs for one hour, 49 minutes (109 minutes). In order to accommodate different formats such as DVD, different aspect ratios were used. For instance, the cinema version of the movie was created with a 1.33:1. The DVD format used 2.00:1. 

The camera used was Arriflex 35-III with a series of lenses including Nikon Nikkor, Panavision Panaflex Gold, Panavision Super Speed Z-Series MKII, Ultra Speed Z-Series MKII, and Canon lenses.

Box Office Details

  • Budget: $15,000,000
  • Opening weekend: $8,193,052
  • Gross (World): $357,288,178

Fun Facts About Top Gun 

  • After the movie was released, some of the script lines were quoted incessantly at the real Top Gun School. This eventually led to a fine of $5 being imposed on any staff member that was caught quoting the film.
  • Stuntman Scott Altman would eventually become a NASA astronaut.
  • Val Kilmer didn’t want to be in the film but because of contractual obligations, he caved.
  • Tom Cruise was always the number one pick to play Maverick but he kept turning down the role. He changed his tune when Jerry Bruckheimer arranged for Tom to ride along with the Blue Angels. After that, Tom was in. 
  • Tom Cruise is not a tall guy. Kelly McGillis is 5’10” and he’s 5’7.” Whenever they had scenes together, Tom had to wear cowboy boots with special lifts in them and Kelly McGillis had to take her shoes off.

Finally, here’s a not-so-fun fact. There was a real death during the filming. Art Scholl, a renowned aerobatic pilot, was hired to do some of the in-flight camerawork. During one of the maneuvers, his plane went into a flat spin and plummeted into the Pacific Ocean. They never determined the cause of the crash. 

Can You Visit the Set of Top Gun?

For anyone with a fascination with aviation, you can take a tour of the Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The tours are twice a month on the first and third Thursdays of each month. The tour lasts for three hours and runs from 9am to noon. It is limited to 40 people and is on a  first-come, first-served basis. Children under 10 are not allowed to take the tour because of safety concerns. 

The tour includes a tour of the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, vintage Marine helicopters, jets, and planes. Where possible, you may also be able to chat with air crew members. To sign up for a tour contact the Miramar Public Affairs Office.  

What is San Diego Famous For?

San Diego enjoys the same beautiful and mild weather as the rest of California. It has plenty of family attractions as well as gorgeous beaches. And let’s not forget the military bases that make their home there.

Unique Things to Do in San Diego 

Not everyone wants a basic get-away vacation so here are a few ideas on things to do that are not so mainstream.

Things to Do in San Diego 

From self-guided tours to specialty museums, there are plenty of things to do in San Diego. Here are a few things to consider:

  • San Diego Zoo
  • Take a whale watching tour
  • Sunset sailing on San Diego Bay
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • The Firehouse Museum
  • San Diego Automotive Museum

Personally, I’m not one for visiting a zoo, but I did visit the San Diego Zoo many years ago. It was a very special experience. It really felt like you were walking around in a jungle. So that’s one thing I can recommend. 

You Asked, We Answer:

Where was the Top Gun beach scene filmed?

It was filmed at the Top Gun Naval Air Station North Island

Where is the Top Gun beach house?

This tiny blue bungalow is nestled between hotels and apartment blocks in Oceanside, California.

Where is the real Top Gun school?

The Top Gun school is now known as the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program. It was previously located at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. It’s now located at the Naval Air Station, Fallon, Nevada.

Can Tom Cruise fly a jet?

Tom Cruise is actually an experienced pilot who’s had a professional license since 1994. He has a flying license for several types of airplane, including fighter jets and commercial flights.

That’s a Wrap!

If you are in the military or have family in the military, a visit to the Naval Air Station Miramar would definitely be worth a visit. But if that’s not your thing, there are still plenty of things to do in San Diego. The weather won’t really be a factor so you can visit any time of year and have a great time.

Have you visited the Naval Air Station Miramar? What did you do on your trip to San Diego? Let me know in the comments below.

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