When an Air Force major called J.J. completed a solo flight in the U-2 in late August 2016 — 60 years after the high-flying aircraft was introduced — he became the 1,000th pilot to do so.

J.J., whose name was withheld by the U.S. Air Force for security reasons, earned his solo patch a few days after pilots No. 998 and No. 999. Those three pilots are in distinguished company, two fellow pilots said this month.

"We have a pretty small, elite team of folks. We're between about 60 and 70 active-duty pilots at any given time," Maj. Matt "Top" Nauman said during an Air Force event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.

"We're about 1,050 [pilots] right now. So to put that in context, there are more people with Super Bowl rings than there are people with U-2 patches," Nauman added. "It's a pretty small group of people that we've hired over the last 60 to 65 years."

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(U.S. Air National Guard/Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The head of naval aviation has directed the creation of a new process for approving and reviewing pilots' call signs after two African-American aviators at an F/A-18 Hornet training squadron in Virginia filed complaints alleging racial bias in the unit, from which they said they were unfairly dismissed.

In a formal endorsement letter signed May 13, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander of Naval Air Forces, said he found the two aviators, a Navy lieutenant and a Marine Corps captain, were correctly removed from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 out of Naval Air Station Oceana due to "substandard performance," despite errors and inconsistencies discovered in the grading and ranking process.

However, Miller said he did find inappropriate conduct by instructor pilots who did not treat the pilots-in-training "with appropriate dignity and respect," using discriminatory call signs and having inappropriate and unprofessional discussions about them on social media.

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The scene of Monday's plane crash in North Carolina. (North Carolina Department of Transportation/Susan Kinner)

A military plane crashed in North Carolina on Monday, according to the Marine Corps.

The pilot safely ejected before the crash in Craven County, and no deaths have been reported, according to a Facebook post from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

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Four U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcons from the Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing fly in formation during air refueling training in Swedish airspace, Feb. 8, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Luke Milano)

An F-16 fighter jet with the 180th Fighter Wing performed an emergency landing Tuesday morning at Toledo Express Airport after an onboard weapon jammed during training.

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The last remaining Northrop N-9M flying wing at the Chino Air Show in 2014. (Wikimedia Commons/Tim Felce)

The historic Northrop N-9M flying wing that crashed in a Norco, California prison yard in late April apparently executed a "barrel roll" before plummeting to the ground, according to the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report.

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A J-20 stealth fighter jet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force performs during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2018, in Zhuhai city, south China's Guangdong province on November 6, 2018. (Imaginechina via Associated Press)

NEW YORK — China may declare its first stealth fighter operational this year as it also develops long-range bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons, part of a regional buildup by Beijing that the U.S. is closely monitoring, according to the U.S. Air Force's Pacific commander.

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