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
Narrated by
  • John William Galt (pilot)
  • Chuck Morgan (US)
  • Michael Donovan (US)
  • Brian Cant (UK)
Theme music composerParachute Express
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes73 (50 segments) (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • David Michel
  • Bruce D. Johnson
  • William T. Baumann
  • Chris Walker
Producer(s)David Michel
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture formatSDTV 480i
Original release
  • Pilot 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)

Jay Jay the Jet Plane is an American musical children's television series based at the fictional Tarrytown Airport. The series has 73 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 (and sometimes also to parents).


In late 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 had the same personalities as in the later series. This original series was narrated similarly to the first eleven seasons of Thomas & Friends or Theodore Tugboat.[1] 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".

On November 2, 1998, the CGI/live-action series premiered on The Learning Channel as part of the Ready Set Learn block. Debi Derryberry took on the role of Jay Jay after Bergman's death in 1999, with no new characters voiced by her. The show was close captioned by the National Captioning Institute with the old close caption credit logo when seen on the Learning Channel back then. The Learning Channel removed the series on March 14, 2000. On June 11, 2001, all episodes began broadcasting on PBS Kids; the end credits changed, and additional episodes were created from 2001–2005. 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, Dee Dee Green 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.


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 jet plane. He is the titular character and main protagonist of the series. Originally voiced by Mary Kay Bergman, then replaced with Debi Derryberry after her death.
  • Tracy. Female. Child. Sister figure. Small pink jet plane who is Jay Jay's best friend forever. She has normal hearing, but understands American Sign Language. Voiced by Sandy Fox.
  • Snuffy. Male. Child. Cousin figure. Small green propeller monoplane who is a good friend of Jay Jay and Tracy. 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 Sandy Fox.
  • Herky. Male. Child. Small yellow helicopter. In the original series, he spoke with a stutter (like famous Looney Tunes 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 last "-y". He has skids instead of wheels, and cannot taxi on the ground. Voiced by Mary Kay Bergman, and replaced with Debi Derryberry after her death.

Older plane characters[edit]

Ground vehicles[edit]


  • Brenda Blue: Woman in blue clothing and usually wears a red cap or a blue cap. 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. Played by Eve Whittle in the US version and Vanessa Stacey in the UK version.
  • Mrs. Blue: Brenda Blue's mother, who sometimes visits Tarrytown Airport.
  • Miss Lee: a deaf and silent librarian at Tarrytown Library who knows American Sign Language.
  • E.Z. O'Malley: 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'.) Played by Brian Nahas.
  • 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

Sometimes, the planes taxi on the town streets.


Season Episodes Originally aired (U.S. dates) Original network
First aired Last aired
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)


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:[2][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 and Old Oscar's niece from far away.
  • 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.

International Broadcast[edit]


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") on TG4 and in English via access to UK television in several parts of Ireland.
  • Portugal Portugal
    • The series is known as Jay Jay, o Jatinho ("Jay Jay the Jet") and Jay Jay, o Avião (Jay Jay the Airplane).
  • Russia Russia
    • The series is known as Реактивный самолётик Джей-Джей ("Jet Plane Dzhey-Dzhey").

Australia and New Zealand[edit]


  • South Africa South Africa
    • The series was broadcast on M-Net as part of their lineup of children's programmes K-T.V..
  • Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
    • The series formerly aired on the country's short running network Channel 2.


  • 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.
  • United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
  • Singapore Singapore
  • Bahrain Bahrain
    • The series was formerly shown on the country's English language television network Channel 55.
  • Arab League The Middle East


  1. ^ "Amazon.com Jay Jay's First Flight VHS". Amazon.com.
  2. ^ "Practical MoCap: Motion Capture for TV". Creative Planet Network. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  3. ^ http://www.s4c.co.uk/ariawyren/index2.htm

External links[edit]