Fighter Jet Went Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

pink plane

By Debbie Gregory.

Last month’s breast cancer awareness campaign had a great ally — a retired U.S. Navy fighter jet. To say it was pink would be an understatement!

The Grumman F9F-8 Cougar was painted a shocking shade of pink called “Heliconia.” The plane was on the flight deck of the World War II aircraft carrier USS Lexington, anchored at Corpus Christi, Texas through the end of October.

Thanks to a special paint procedure that included applying liquid dishwashing soap to the latex paint, the color is only temporary.

Decommissioned in 1991, the Lexington was converted to a naval aviation museum.

The Cougars were the Navy’s choice as the first swept-wing plane for the elite Blue Angels flight demonstration team. The Cougar’s were used for various roles, including fighters, ground attack planes, photo reconnaissance, and training aircraft. During the Vietnam War, the two-seater version was used as a forward air control aircraft.

Delta Airlines is also a great supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness; their “Pink Plane,” a specially painted widebody Boeing 767-400ER, flies hundreds of thousands of miles a year, raising awareness for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

According to the Delta website, 91 cents of every dollar donated to BCRF goes directly to research and awareness programs, and since 1993, BCRF-funded investigators have been deeply involved in every major breakthrough in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Since 2005, the program has raised $11 million.

For 12 years, Delta has organized annual survivor flights with women who’ve beaten the disease, including their own employees.  The flights are nicknamed “Breast Cancer One.”

This year’s flight honored 140 breast cancer survivors who flew from New York to Los Angeles. Festivities began with an event at the gate in JFK before the pink plane made its way to LAX, where survivors and attendees enjoyed another gatehouse event and an overnight stay, including dinner, hotel accommodations and a meet-and-greet with one of BCRF’s world-renowned researchers, Dr. Sofia Merajver from the University of Michigan.

The Pink Plane looks like it’s been wrapped by a giant, bright pink ribbon. It’s also branded with the BCRF logo.

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Military Connection: Breast Cancer Awareness: By Debbie Gregory

Breast Cancer AwarenessOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many Americans support the month-long event, displaying pink ribbons and pink accessories, donating money, walking, jogging and running for a cure. Many people also participate in programs offered by professional sports organizations, retail stores and restaurant chains that advocate for breast cancer awareness.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, would like to provide some information on breast cancer that Veterans may not be aware of. Women are well aware of the need to self-examine for breast cancer, early and often. But men should know that they can get breast cancer as well.

Men have breasts and milk ducts, which is where most male breast cancer originates. The most common form of breast cancer in males is a form of the disease called invasive ductal carcinoma. This cancer makes up nearly 80% of all breast cancer diagnoses, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Men should be aware that while breast cancer is still rare among males (less than 1% of the population), the statistics for men being diagnosed with breast cancer has risen by more than 25% over the last three decades. The main problem is the lack of awareness that men need to conduct self-checks for lumps and abnormalities. Since most men aren’t aware that males can be diagnosed with breast cancer, they don’t know that they need to check.

Men can also be tested for the risk factors of breast cancer. Both men and women can be tested for mutations in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. But again, men are less likely to get tested.

It is important for men to conduct self-checks as a method of early detection. Due to the fact that men have a small amount of breast tissue, most men who have breast cancer (that hasn’t spread to other parts of the body) end up having a mastectomy. This is where the patient’s entire breast is removed, instead of proceeding with a lumpectomy, where just the cancerous lump is removed.

There are side effects that come with breast cancer treatment that can be troubling. Hormone treatments for both men and women with breast cancer include inserting varying amounts of estrogen and progesterone into their bodies. Men who undergo this type of treatment have experienced occurrences of hot flashes, which can lead to emotional distress.

Both men and women need to be aware that with early detection, the survival rate is 98%.  Early detection relies on monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

At least once a month, it is recommended to check your breasts for any unusual changes in feel or appearance. For more details about signs and symptoms of breast cancer and how to conduct a self-check, please visit

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Military Connection: Breast Cancer Awareness: By Debbie Gregory