Review – NAS Miramar Late 1980s MSFS by Sundownersim


In the hobby of flight simulation, the draw of specific aviation themes, adds an extra degree of excitement for the flight enthusiast. TOP GUN, synonymous with the 1986 movie starring Tom Cruise, has a special meaning for the aviation community at large.

With the release of NAS Miramar, the chance to jog memories of the 1980’s in relation to the theme of TOP GUN was an opportunity that I was not going to miss. This appears to be the second scenery released by the developer Sundownersim. The almost concurrent release of the F-14 by Heatblur and IndiaFoxtEcho was the icing on the cake to review this iconic 1980’s airfield. The memories began with a one-step download of the scenery through the CONTRAIL app.

Images of the scenery can also be viewed in the video below:

History of KNKX (Miramar)

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS MIRAMAR) was formerly the Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Miramar and the Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar. During the 80’s, the airfield was known as Mitscher Field after Admiral M.A. Mitscher, a commander during World War II. Today, the airfield is known as Joe Foss Field.

Miramar found new life as a Navy Master Jet Station in the 1950s, but really came into its own during the Vietnam War. The Navy needed a school to train pilots in dogfighting and in fleet air defense. In 1969, the Top Gun school was established (and immortalized by the 1986 movie of the same name). In October 1972, Miramar welcomed the famed F-14 Tomcat. VF-124’s mission was to train Tomcat crews for aircraft carrier operations. The first two operational Tomcat squadrons, VF-1 and VF-2, trained at Miramar before deploying aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in 1974. These squadrons flew “top cover” during the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.

During the popularity of TOP GUN, Miramar was also known as Fightertown, USA.

Building 5

24R lined up

Building 231

Building 234

Building 2 1


F14 static

F14 2

Building 2

Miramar is currently home for eight F/A-18C & F/A-18D Hornet jet squadrons, four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter squadrons, four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter squadrons, and one KC-130 transport and refueling squadron.

Airport Description

This military airport covers a 24,000-acre installation and is located approximately 12 miles (19 kms) North of downtown San Diego. The US Navy owns the airport. At an elevation of 477 feet, the airport has 2 long parallel runways, plus a shorter 28-10 RWY.

RWY 06L-24R is 12,000’ x 200’ (concrete) and RWY 06R-24L is 8,0001’ x 200’ (porous European mix). Visual guidance to the runways is provided by a 4-light PAPI system.

SUNDOWNERSIM Publisher Description

Naval Air Station Miramar is here depicted under Microsoft Flight Simulator during the Late 1980’s focusing on the golden age of the West Coast Tomcats! Feel the need, the need for speed!

Our goal was to depict the base the more realistically possible, around 1986-1988, with the many squadrons living on the base, as well as the shooting of an iconic aviation movie.

F 5 Tigers

Blue Jackets



Top Gun Logo


Search Light

Sundownersim NAS Miramar includes :

  • Accurately handplaced autogen, roads, taxiways, aprons, matching real life pictures of the airfield as it was in the 1980s.
  • Buildings, static objects to match historical data’s from the 1980’s.
  • Numerous static aircraft, hand placed on the accurate parking spots with historical and accurate numbers including:
  • F-14 Tomcats with accurate markings (VF-1/VF-2/VF-194/VF-124/VF-51/VF-111/VF-24/VF-114/VF-213)
  • E2-C Hawkeyes and C-2 Greyhounds with accurate markings (VAW-88/VAW-110/VAW-112/VAW-113/VAW-114/VAW-116/VAW-117)
  • F-5 Tigers with accurate markings, from the Famous TOP GUN adversary squadron (VF-126/VF-127)
  • A-4 Skyhawks with accurate markings from the Famous TOP GUN adversary squadron (VF-126/VF-127)

Scenery Features

Installation was performed by a one-step download into the Community folder through the CONTRAIL app. 

The scenery file overwrites the entire KNKX airport. All the roads, taxiways and aprons have been hand crafted. Use the showcase drone camera to explore NAS MIRAMAR and you will not be disappointed to roll back time and explore the feeling of the 1980’s at Mitscher Field.

The significant enhancements in this product are the 6 hangars/buildings (numbered 1 to 6 on the upper exterior corner). Particular attention and creativity have been injected into each building including the control tower. The control tower comes with a revolving search light that provides a very realistic effect for the night settings. The textures/colors give the tower that authentic 1980’s look and an air traffic control person is now present in the tower to witness the jets that “buzz” the tower. Each hangar has received attention with interior contents or themes relevant to TOP GUN. Perimeters around the buildings have also received attention to detail.

Building #1 contains the famous TOP GUN movie setup for class instruction inside the hangar. A female instructor plus table and chairs are present for briefing and de-briefing sessions. The North part of this building is a maintenance hangar depicting engine replacement in the F-14 Tomcats.

Building #2 – not open but acts as an auxiliary supply hangar.

Building #3 – inspection hangar for the F-14’s.

Building #4 – engine inspection/replacement hangar

Building #5 – E2-C Hawkeye inspection and storage hangar

Building #6 – E2-C Hawkeye inspection and storage hangar

The TOP GUN movie setup is depicted on the limits of the South-East apron. Numerous static aircraft models and hand placed features occupy the extensive apron with considerable detail. Areas of the apron depict the parking for the large jet-fuel trucks, a bomb depot and aircraft fueling stations. Static fighter jets include F-14 Tomcats, E2-C Hawkeyes, C-2 Greyhounds, F-5 Tigers and A-4 Skyhawks. Numerous animated personal add an extra touch of realism to the static displays.

Building 1

F 14s

Night Lights

F 14s 3


Movie Set

Static Aircraft 1

Static Engines

Yellow Jackets

Tower Daytime


Tower Daytime 2


There are also many auxiliary buildings such as those for electrical power handling on the airfield. Night lighting of the airport buildings is very good. Airport taxiways, signs, apron markings and the 2 main runways with new textures complete the airport. Runway 06L-24R is 12,000’ x 200’ (concrete) and runway 06R-24L is 8,0001’ x 200’ (porous European mix). Visual guidance to runway 06L-24R is provided by a 4-light PAPI system. A shorter runway 28-10 is also depicted.

Performance drop at the airport was minimal to low depending on the camera view while piloting the F-14 Tomcat.

Areas for Improvement

My criticisms are minor in relation to the content and effort put into this scenery:

  • Some external building textures including lettering and emblems on the buildings could be at higher resolution.
  • Chain link in front of the control tower did not show well up close.
  • A static USA flag hanging from Building #1 has been textured with an image of a moving flag in the wind. This should either be animated blowing in the wind, or a flat picture of the flag should be used.
  • I did notice some flickering of the night lighting on the buildings; but his may be a MSFS issue.

Given this is a re-creation of the 1980’s the developer was tasked with the quality of historic images obtained and balancing sim performance with the resolution of textures. 

Final Thoughts

This was an exciting scenery package to discover and review given the attraction to the 1980’s and TOP GUN. Considerable thought has been worked into the scenery. I highly recommend this scenery, especially for those wishing to re-live the 1980’s era in Flight Simulator. Combine this add-on with your favorite military aircraft and you will be provided with many hours of enjoyment and memories for those who experienced the 1980’s. Get ready for a long taxi to runway 24R if you start your jet at the far end of the airport near Building 5 or 6! 

Feel the need, the need for speed!

NAS Miramar Late 1980s MSFS by Sundownersim is now available for Microsoft Flight Simulator for just under $20.