May 30, 1996
Web posted at: 1 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Charles Feldman
SAN DIEGO (CNN) -- In a bid to consolidate operations, the Top Gun flying school, popularized by the hit movie of the same name, relocated its pilots and planes to Nevada. Wednesday, the school's last planes took off from the Miramar Naval Air Base in San Diego for the last time.
In all, some 600 pilots and family members are moving, not to mention a lot of impressive flying hardware. The school's new address: Fallon Naval Air Station, about 60 miles from Reno.
For 27 years the U.S. Navy stationed its so-called Top Gun school at Miramar in San Diego. Officially known as the Naval Fighters Weapons School, its mission is to train the nation's best jet fighter pilots. The school was established after the Navy lost a number of aircraft during the Vietnam war.
"The range space here is wonderful," said Top Gun pilot Eric Shaw. "This is the hub for naval training, and pretty much everybody in the Navy and Marine Corps comes through Fallon at one time or another."
Because the Marine Corps will be moving into Miramar, replacing the departing Top Gun crew, the economic impact on San Diego appears minimal. Some community members are concerned about what promises to be a dramatic increase in helicopter traffic. While not as loud as the jets, they will take off and land more frequently.