Jay Jay the Jet Plane

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Jay Jay the Jet Plane
Also known asJay Jay (for short)
GenreChildren's television series
Created by
  • David Michel
  • Deborah Michel
Written by
Voices of
Narrated by
  • John William Galt (pilot series)
  • Chuck Morgan (US)
  • Michael Donovan (US)
  • Brian Cant (UK)
Theme music composerStephen Michael Schwartz
Parachute Express
Opening theme"Gee, How I Love to Fly" (1994-1996); "Jay Jay the Jet Plane Theme Song" (1998-2005)
Ending theme"Gee, How I Love to Fly" (Reprise) (1998-2000); "Jay Jay the Jet Plane Theme Song Instrumental" (1998-2005)
  • Craig Dobbin
  • Brian Mann
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes62 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • David Michel
  • Bruce D. Johnson
  • William T. Baumann
  • Chris Walker
ProducerDavid Michel
Running time25 minutes
Production companies
Original network
Picture formatNTSC
Audio formatDolby Surround
Original releaseDecember 13, 1994 (1994-12-13) –
November 25, 2005 (2005-11-25)
External links

Jay Jay the Jet Plane is an American live-action/CGI-animated musical children's television series based at the fictional Tarrytown Airport, which aired on The Learning Channel, PBS Kids and Smile.[1] The series has 62 episodes, and 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.


Original Series[edit]

Early episodes using physical models ('Pilot Series')[edit]

Jay Jay's debut model (1994) as seen on the pilot episode: Jay Jay's First Flight.

In late 1994, a short live-action series was produced at AMS Production Company in Dallas, Texas, with real model plane characters, and handcrafted human characters; they had the same personalities as in the later series. This original series was narrated similarly to the first twelve seasons of Thomas & Friends, or Theodore Tugboat.[2] Three videos were released: Jay Jay's First Flight in December 1994, Old Oscar Leads the Parade in February 1995, and Tracy's Handy Hideout in October 1996. This original series was narrated by and features the voices of John William Galt. These three were known as the "pilot series".

CGI and live-action-based episodes[edit]

On November 2, 1998, the CGI-animated/live-action series premiered on The Learning Channel as part of the Ready Set Learn block. 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 Latina 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 on the subchannel networks Qubo and Smile. It aired on Channel 5 and Tiny Pop in the UK.

In 2019 Yippee TV became the exclusive streaming service of Jay Jay the Jet Plane.[3]


Promotional announcement image, depicting the new design of Jay Jay.

A new reboot of the series titled The New World of Jay Jay the Jet Plane has been confirmed through Trilogy Animation Group's website.[4] Unlike the original series, the characters' faces are completely redesigned, and made to look more cartoony. Like the original series, however, it will be CGI-animated.[5]


The series was produced by Venice, California based production company Modern Cartoons at their soundstage in Oxnard, California, United States. Unlike Thomas & Friends, this series used a variety of cutting edge animation techniques:[6][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).
  • The humans, including Brenda Blue, are live action people and shot in front of a greenscreen.
  • The planes were computer models created in PowerAnimator in Seasons 1-2 and Maya in Season 3 and Jay Jay's Mysteries. Models from the pilot series were made for referencing.
  • 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.


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.

Aircraft characters[edit]

  • Jay Jay, a small, blue (originally brown in the pilot series) jet plane. He is the titular character and main protagonist of the series. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and in the CGI/live-action series, originally Mary Kay Bergman, then replaced with Debi Derryberry after Bergman's death.
  • Tracy, a small, purple jet plane. She has normal hearing, but understands American Sign Language. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and Gina Ribisi in Seasons 1-2, and by Sandy Fox in Season 3 and Jay Jay's Mysteries in the CGI/live-action series.
  • Snuffy, a small, green propeller-driven monoplane. He 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 John William Galt in the pilot series and Gina Ribisi in season 1 & season 2, and by Sandy Fox in Season 3 and Jay Jay's Mysteries in the CGI/live-action series.
  • Herky, a small, yellow helicopter. In the pilot series, he spoke with a stutter (like famous Looney Tunes character Porky Pig), provided by John William Galt, who voiced all the other characters. In the CGI series, he rolls his "R"s whenever he speaks, and often pronounces stressed "er" as long vocalic "r" ([]), e.g. "I'm Herky" as [aim hki], with a strong high-rising pitch accent on the last "-y". He has skids instead of wheels, and cannot taxi on the ground. Originally voiced by Mary Kay Bergman in the CGI/live-action series and later replaced by Debi Derryberry.
  • Big Jake, a silver, propeller-driven Lockheed Super Constellation cargo carrier while the front half is the inspiration to the Lockheed Electra 10e. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and Chuck Morgan then later Michael Donovan in the CGI/live-action series.
  • Savannah, a silver supersonic airliner. She was made at Savannah, Georgia, hence her name and Southern accent. She somewhat resembles the Concorde supersonic jet. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series, Mary Kay Bergman in the CGI/live-action series, and later by Debi Derryberry following Bergman's death.
  • Old Oscar, an old, green biplane (grey in the pilot series). Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and Chuck Morgan then later Michael Donovan in the CGI/live-action series.

Ground vehicle characters[edit]

Human characters[edit]

  • Brenda Blue, a woman in blue clothing and usually wears a red cap or a blue cap, as well as a pair of red high top Converse. She is in charge of the airport, and is the ace mechanic. She does not use the airport's control tower but communicates with the planes by a portable two-way radio from the ground. Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and played by Eve Whittle in the US version and Vanessa Stacey in the UK version of the CGI/live-action series.
  • Mrs. Blue, Brenda Blue's mother, who sometimes visits Tarrytown Airport.
  • Miss Lee, Tarrytown's deaf librarian.
  • E.Z. O'Malley, the founder of E.Z. Airlines, with cousins Grumpy O'Malley (lives at Dewdrop Farm), Pierre O'Malley (lives in France), and Tex O'Malley (lives in Texas). (Note: here the letter 'Z' is pronounced 'zee', not 'zed'.) Voiced by John William Galt in the pilot series and played by Brian Nahas in the CGI/live-action series.
  • Other human characters appear from time to time.

Animal characters[edit]

New characters[edit]

Mentioned characters[edit]

  • Fred
  • Big John


  • Tarrytown is a small town 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 the airport where Jay Jay and his friends live, and Brenda Blue works. It is also run by a small firm called E.Z. Airlines and consists of the following structures:
    • 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
  • Whistlin' Pines
  • Echo Canyon
  • Cherry Tree Lake
  • Crystal Cave
  • Lightning Bug Lake
  • Michael O'Tarry School
  • Andy's Donut Shop
  • Farmer Dale's Ranch

Sometimes, the planes taxi on the town streets.


Season Episodes Originally aired (United States dates) Original network
First aired Last aired
Pilot series 12 December 13, 1994 (1994-12-13) October 29, 1996 (1996-10-29) Direct-to-video
1 12 November 2, 1998 (1998-11-02) December 21, 1998 (1998-12-21) TLC
2 14 January 4, 1999 (1999-01-04) March 14, 2000 (2000-03-14)
3 14 June 11, 2001 (2001-06-11) July 20, 2001 (2001-07-20) PBS Kids
4 10 September 5, 2005 (2005-09-05) November 25, 2005 (2005-11-25)


Common Sense Media gave the series a four out of five stars, saying, "Parents need to know that this series offers young fans life lessons such as valuing friends, overcoming shyness, and learning to like yourself. Kids will enjoy the often funny antics of 6-year-old Jay Jay and his friends. Don't be surprised if you catch your preschooler singing along with the show's simple songs."[7]


  1. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 442–443. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  2. ^ Amazon.com Jay Jay's First Flight VHS. ASIN 6303398499.
  3. ^ "Jay Jay the Jet Plane". Yippee TV.
  4. ^ "Animation Studio | Trilogy Animation| Orange County | United States". Trilogy Animation.
  5. ^ "resume". Denis Morella Animation Portfolio.
  6. ^ "Practical MoCap: Motion Capture for TV". Creative Planet Network. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  7. ^ "Jay Jay the Jet Plane - TV Review". www.commonsensemedia.org. October 19, 2009.

External links[edit]