Jay Jay the Jet Plane

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Jay Jay the Jet Plane
Also known as Jay Jay (for short)
Genre Children's television series
Created by David Michel
Deborah Michel
Written by John Semper
Eleanor Burian-Mohr
Voices of Mary Kay Bergman (1998-1999)
Gina Ribisi
Chuck Morgan
Marie Danielle
Donna Cherry (1999-2005)
Debi Derryberry (1999-2005)
Eve Whittle
Michael Donovan
Narrated by Chuck Morgan
Michael Donovan
Brian Cant (UK)
Theme music composer Parachute Express
Composer(s) Stephen Michael Schwartz
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 60 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) David Michel
Bruce D. Johnson
William T. Baumann
Chris Walker
Producer(s) David Michel
Location(s) Tarrytown Airport in Tarrytown
Production company(s) PorchLight Entertainment
Modern Cartoons
Wonderwings.com Entertainment
Knightscove Family Films
Distributor Tommy Nelson (1998-2002)
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (2002-05)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2005)
Original network TLC (USA; 1998–2001)
PBS Kids (USA; 2001–05)
Milkshake! (UK 1999-2005)
Picture format SDTV 480i
Original release Home Video series: December 13, 1994 (1994-12-13) - October 29, 1996 (1996-10-29)
Television series: November 2, 1998 (1998-11-02) – November 25, 2005 (2005-11-25)
Related shows Thomas and Friends
Theodore Tugboat
External links
[[1] www.jayjay.com]]

Jay Jay the Jet Plane is an American children's television series based at the fictional Tarrytown Airport. It has 73 episodes. The series is centered on a group of aircraft who live in the fictional city of Tarrytown. The episodes are commonly distributed in 25-minute-long (as without commercials) pairs, with one header sequence and one end credits for each pair. Each episode contains one or more songs.

The theme song and the majority of the other songs were written by well-known children's singer/songwriter Stephen Michael Schwartz and sung by his popular musical group, Parachute Express. Created by David and Deborah Michel, the series is intended to be educational and to teach life and moral lessons to children (and sometimes also to parents).


In 1994, a short live-action series was produced at AMS Production Company in Dallas, Texas, with real model plane characters and animated crafted human characters; they did not talk but had the same personalities as in the later series. This original series was narrated similarly to the first eleven seasons of Thomas and Friends or Theodore Tugboat.[1] It contained three videos: Jay Jay's First Flight, Old Oscar Leads the Parade and Tracy's Handy Hideout. These three episodes were known as the "pilot series".

On November 2, 1998, the CGI/live-action series premiered on The Learning Channel. Debi Derryberry took on the role of Jay Jay after Bergman's death in 1999 with no new characters voiced by her. The Learning Channel removed the series on March 14, 2000. On June 11, 2001, all episodes began broadcasting on PBS Kids; the end credits have changed and additional episodes were created in 2001-2005, and retired from the PBS Kids website in 2010 . Home video editions were released by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment through 2003 as part of their "Columbia TriStar Family Fun" collection. Additional distribution was added with Tommy Nelson, the children's division of book publisher Thomas Nelson, although the series is not overtly "Christian". Voice actress Mary Kay Bergman provided the original voice of Jay Jay, Herky, Savannah, and Revvin Evan. After her death, Debi Derryberry and Donna Cherry replaced her.

In 2005, new episodes were produced featuring additional characters, including the red Latino plane Lina. Each episode begins featuring a "Jay Jay's Mysteries" segment in which Jay Jay and Lina explore such things that may be mysteries to the intended age group, such as how planes fly and how the five senses are used. The mysteries segment is followed by a story that comes from the original episodes of the series so in effect the new series repackages previously broadcast content.


The planes and ground vehicles are CGI characters, while the humans are live action actors.

Relationship words for the airplane characters refer to being in loco parentis for purposes of upbringing and education, not to biological parenthood. The story says that (some of) the airplane characters were made in factories.

Some of the stories describe characters as doing actions off-screen that would need foldaway arms (e.g. Big Jake digging holes), but those arms are never seen on screen.

Young plane characters[edit]

  • Jay Jay. Male. Child. Brother figure. Small blue and red jet airliner; the titular character and main protagonist. Originally voiced by Mary Kay Bergman, then replaced with Debi Derryberry after her death.
  • Tracy. Female. Child. Sister figure. Small pink and yellow jet airliner. Normal hearing, but understands American Sign Language. Voiced by Gina Ribisi and later Marie Danielle
  • Snuffy. Male. Child. Cousin figure. Small green propeller monoplane. Is equipped for skywriting. In episode consistency (which depends on the order), one episode says that he has not flown further away from Tarrytown than Lightning Bug Lake, but other episodes show him flying much further; in "Catch the Buzz" Snuffy still has not got rid of his original shyness, but in many other episodes he shows no sign of shyness. Voiced by Gina Ribisi and later Marie Danielle
  • Herky. Male. Yellow and green helicopter. In the original series, he spoke with a stutter (Like Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Character Porky Pig). In the CGI series, he rolls his "R"s whenever he speaks, and often pronounces stressed "er" as long vocalic "r" ([ɹ̩]), e.g. "I'm Herky" as [aɪm hɹ̩ːˈkǐ], with a strong high-rising pitch accent on the final "-y". He has skids instead of wheels and cannot taxi on the ground. Voiced by Mary Kay Bergman and replaced with Donna Cherry after her death.

Older plane characters[edit]

Ground vehicles[edit]

  • Revvin' Evan. Male. Red fire engine, Cousin of Tuffy. Voiced by Mary Kay Bergman and replaced with Donna Cherry after her death
  • Tuffy. Female. Blue and red towtruck, Cousin of Revvin Evan; has a speech impediment. Voiced by Gina Ribisi and later Marie Danielle


  • Brenda Blue: Woman in blue clothing and usually wears a red cap or a blue cap. In charge of the airport, and is the mechanic. She does not use the airport's control tower but communicates with the planes by a portable two-way radio from the ground. Played by Eve Whittle and Vanessa Stacey in the UK version.
  • Mrs. Blue: is Brenda Blue's mother who sometimes visits Tarrytown Airport.
  • Miss Lee: is a deaf librarian at Tarrytown Library who knows American Sign Language.
  • E.Z. O'Malley: Played by Brian Nahas He founded E.Z. Airlines and his cousins are Grumpy O'Malley (lives at Dewdrop Farm), Pierre O'Malley (lives in France) and Tex O'Malley (lives in Texas). (Note: here 'Z' is pronounced 'zee', not 'zed'.)
  • Other human characters appear from time to time.
  • Tarrytown Airport is run by a small firm called E.Z. Airlines.



  • Tarrytown is in a hilly area with enough rain to keep the land green, and frost and snow sometimes in the winter. Forested mountains and a desert are nearby.
  • Tarrytown Airport is where Jay Jay and his friends live and Brenda Blue works.
    • Main Hangar
    • Kids' Hangar
    • Revvin' Evan's Firehouse
    • Herky's Hangar
    • Observation Tower
    • Old Oscar's Barn
  • Tarrytown National Park
  • Smiling Meadow
  • Sandy Landing has a waterfront area.
  • Pangabula Island
  • Tarrytown Quarry
  • Sunshine Desert
  • Tippy Toppy Peak
  • Frosty Pines
  • Echo Canyon
  • Cherry Tree Lake
  • Crystal Cave
  • Lightning Bug Lake
  • Michael O'Tarry School
  • Andy's Donut Shop
  • Farmer Dale's Ranch

Tarrytown and its airport are never seen in moving-camera shots, and therefore are likely real miniature sets which were photographed and those photographs were used as backgrounds in the CGI images. The airport runway may be a CGI ground plane texture mapped with a photograph of real full-size or miniature tarmac. Sometimes, the planes taxi on the town streets.[original research?][citation needed]



The series was produced by Modern Cartoons in Oxnard, California, United States. Unlike Thomas the Tank Engine, this series used a variety of animation techniques:[original research?][citation needed]

  • The backgrounds were miniature sets (usually built on two 4 by 8 feet (1,200 mm × 2,400 mm) sheets of plywood).
  • Brenda Blue was a live action actress shot in front of a greenscreen.
  • The planes were computer models created in Maya and a proprietary software.
  • The movement of the planes was recorded by playing out the scene with wood models equipped with magnetic position sensors. The planes had a switch to aid landing and taxiing, due to some minor fluctuations in the magnetic positioning data.
  • The planes' faces and lip synching were done by face tracking, a technique where reflective spots are put on a voice actor's face. The voice track is digitally recorded along with the spot data. Then the face is rendered using a form of parametric animation.
  • Head movement and other effects were done by joysticks.

The complex mathematical and CGI issues were solved by Frank Ford Little, PhD.[clarification needed][citation needed]

A number of proprietary software systems were used:[citation needed]

  • Data/audio recording and smoothing were done on a Windows machine.
  • Daily cuts were done on "Compaq Alpha" computers running a 64-bit version of Windows NT 4.0.

Jay Jay's Mysteries[edit]

10 new episodes[edit]

  • The Mystery of Plants
  • The Mystery of Weather
  • The Mystery of Size and Shape
  • The Mystery of Flight
  • The Mystery of the Five Senses
  • The Mystery of Water
  • The Mystery of Bugs
  • The Mystery of Time
  • The Mystery of Stars and Planets
  • The Mystery of Dinosaurs

New characters[edit]

  • Lina: Jay Jay's new friend.
  • Montana: Safari plane.
  • Captain Bob: Firefighting plane.
  • Solar: Yellow. Long wide wings. 6 propellers driven by electricity from solar panels covering the tops of his wings.
  • Truckee: Dump truck.


United States[edit]

The series was broadcast over many of the 379 member stations of PBS Kids in the United States.


In foreign versions of the show, the human characters are often replaced with different actors. For example, in the Korean version of the show, a Korean actor takes the role of Brenda. Unusually, the Irish version of Jay Jay the Jet Plane mostly uses non-native speaker actors from Belfast (although some minor parts are played by native-speaking actors from the Gaeltacht).


  • United Kingdom United Kingdom
  • France France
    • The series is known as Jay Jay le Petit Avion ("Jay Jay the Small Aeroplane")
  • Spain Spain
    • The series is known as Jay Jay, el avioncito ("Jay Jay the small aeroplane")
  • Republic of Ireland Ireland
    • The series was broadcast in Irish Tadhg an t-Eitleán ("Tadhg the Aeroplane") and English
  • Portugal Portugal
    • The series is known as Jay Jay, o Jatinho ("Jay Jay the Small Jet") [3]
  • Russia Russia
    • The series is known as Реактивный самолётик Джей-Джей ("Jet Plane Jay-Jay").


  • Malaysia Malaysia
    • The series was formerly shown in original version on TV2 in the early 2000s (decade). It was also dubbed in Malay by Filem Karya Nusa and aired on Astro Ria, also in the early 2000s (decade). It was later shown with new episodes on Astro Ceria in 2009 where the Malay dubbing is made in-house.
  • Singapore Singapore


External links[edit]