“If there’s a will there’s a way,” is the Thomsons’ parting words, or motto, after sharing their story of love and life. They got in Janet’s 1931 Ford Model A (a birthday present from Jay) and drove off to get ready for a dinner engagement.
I met them at their hangar at the Morgan County Airport. Inside, Janet introduced “these are Jay’s toys,” which consists of a motorcycle; a restored 1946 Fairchild airplane; a well polished motor boat; and a small plane for grandchildren to pretend to fly. A work area for his tools to keep the “toys” in running order, and for convenience, a sitting area with a 1927 antique refrigerator nearby with cold drinks and a cookie jar that resembles a fisherman’s basket, full of Ginger Snap cookies, on the coffee table.
They said what brought them to Mountain Green was the airport, where they built their dream home.
Jay and Janet were introduced in 1970 at Boise State College while both were attending classes at the LDS Institute of Religion. After they met their lives and ambitions began to intertwine like the yarns that are used to create a strong and ever binding tapestry to withstand whatever it has to face.
Jay was studying Aerospace Science. He said “I knew what I wanted to be since I was 5 years old.” He wanted to be a pilot and fly airplanes. He started with flying model airplanes with his dad, “You know, the kind you build from kits.”, he explained.
After graduating from High School in 1966, Jay started flying lessons. Yet, his dream of flying for the United States Forest Service was put on hold when he was drafted into the US Army in 1968. Because he didn’t have uncorrected 20/20 vision he could not fly military planes. Instead he worked with computers and received an honorable discharge in 1970. Jay received his Private Pilot’s license in 1969, his Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor in 1970, and his Airline Transport Pilot license in 1976.
Janet graduated from Borah High School, Boise, ID, in 1968. While attending college, Janet took flying lessons. Both her father and mother were pilots and owned an aviation business where she was employed as a Bookkeeper. When Jay asked her out for their “first date” she was excited that he was taking her flying! Jay became Janet’s Flight Instructor and she, his “first student”. Janet completed her training and obtained her Private Pilot license in 1970.
On Christmas Eve, 1970, Jay proposed to Janet while flying over the Christmas lights of Boise. She said “Yes” and they were married May 28th, 1971, in the Logan Temple.
Jay’s dream came true, in 1981, when he was hired as a pilot for the US Forest Service. He is proud to say he “retired at the age of 54”, in 2002. He then contracted his flying skills from 2002 to 2009 with the US Forest Service.
During Jay’s career he flew for various branches of the armed forces including the Green Berets and Navy Seals. With the Forest Service he flew Smoke Jumpers (firefighters using a parachute) and para-cargo to fires in areas where fire trucks had no access. This took him from coast to coast, wherever he was needed.
Janet’s dream, to work with her husband, came true. Jay would transport Forest Service executives around the country with Janet working as “Flight Attendant”. They worked together in this capacity for about 5 years.
Janet retired from teaching piano after 27 years. This was before their mission call, in 2010. They served an LDS Service Mission at the Willie/6th Crossing Historic Handcart Center in Wyoming.
The Thomson’s celebrated 40 years of marriage this year. They let someone else fly the airplane, and went on an enjoyable week long trip to Hawaii. Through their years of flying, they have traveled much of the United States. Jay has been to 47 out of 50 states. As well as the Dominican Republic each winter; Mexico; Canada; Costa Rica; Honduras and the British Virgin Islands.
Janet described their life, “We have been married 40 years now and we have soared high above my wildest dreams with adventures too numerous to count.”