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​A U-2 Dragon Lady piloted by a 1st Reconnaissance Squadron U-2 student pilot takes off Aug. 31, 2016, at Beale AFB, Calif. Air Force photo by SrA. Ramon A. Adelan.

​A USAF airman became the 1,000th pilot to fly the the 61-year-old U-2 Dragon Lady last month. The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron student pilot completed the solo flight at Beale AFB, Calif., on Aug. 31, according to a 9th Reconnaissance Wing release. To even qualify to apply for the job, pilots need to have 1,200 rated flight hours and 12 months or 400 hours as a pilot in command. “We benefit as a community from the diverse backgrounds of our pilots,” said 1st Reconnaissance Squadron Director of Operations Maj. Carl Maymi, according to the release. “I think this is an often overlooked component to the U-2’s constant relevance and longevity.” The service plans to send the U-2 fleet to the boneyard in 2019, six years after it initially planned to divest the fleet. (See also: Reconnaissance Never Sleeps  from the August issue of Air Force Magazine.)