Microsoft's free Top Gun 'Flight Simulator' expansion is finally here

You're clear to buzz the tower.

Microsoft/Asobo Studio

Now that Top Gun: Maverick is finally reaching theaters, the matching Microsoft Flight Simulator expansion is launching as well. Microsoft and Asobo Studio have released the free add-on to both hype up the Tom Cruise movie and give you a taste of the US Navy's real-world flight training. You'll get a "Maverick Edition" livery for the F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet, but you'll also learn how to land on an aircraft carrier, perform combat maneuvers and navigate challenging terrain at low altitude.

There's also a more fantastical element. You'll fly a fictional hypersonic aircraft from the movie, the Darkstar, that can push Mach 10 and climb above 150,000 feet — for context, even the SR-71 Blackbird didn't manage sustained flight beyond 85,000 feet. This might be the closest you'll get to seeing Earth from the stratosphere, not to mention traveling at speeds that make cross-continent flights seem trivial.

Both the movie and game add-on have taken a long time to arrive. Top Gun: Maverick was originally slated to debut in July 2019, but the combination of action sequence filming and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back multiple times until Paramount settled on its May 27th premiere. As the Flight Simulator expansion was closely tied to the film, Microsoft and Asobo delayed the game content from November 2021 to this month. It's safe to say both will feel overdue if you've ever wanted to venture well beyond the limits of Flight Sim's usual civilian aircraft.