Tomato Flames And Flaps: What Do They Do For VFR Flights?

Ken Hyde

By Ken Hyde

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Think tomatoes are just for salads? Think again! A Tomato Flames and A Tomato Flames Flaps are two acronyms for VFR pilots, but they have nothing to do with food.

These are two essential acronyms recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the aviation industry to encourage flight safety for day and night.

But what do they mean, and why should you care about them? Read on to learn more!

What Are ‘A Tomato Flames’ And ‘A Tomato Flames Flaps’?

A Tomato Flames and A Tomato Flames Flaps are two acronyms recommended by the FAA to help VFR pilots remember the required minimum equipment list for VFR day and night flights, respectively. For example, A is for the airspeed indicator, T is for the Tachometer, O is for the oil pressure gauge, M is for the manifold pressure gauge, etc.

Tomato Flames And Flaps check list

Despite aircraft certification, VFR (Visual Flight Rules) pilots need to be aware of all the essential equipment and procedures necessary for a safe flight. However, it can be easy to forget something important, especially with so much to think about before takeoff. This is where these acronyms come in.

The FAA uses these acronyms in its official publications and regulations, such as the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). FAR 91.205 specifically mentions the need for these acronyms.

You need your airspeed indicator to make sure you are flying at the correct speed, your altimeter to make sure you are at the correct altitude, your magnetic compass to navigate, your tachometer to monitor your engine’s RPM, your oil pressure gauge to make sure your engine has enough oil pressure, and your fuel gauge to make sure you have enough quantity of fuel to complete your flight.

A ‘Tomato Flames’ is an acronym for the following equipment:

  • Airspeed Indicator
  • Tachometer 
  • Oil Pressure Gauge (
  • Manifold Pressure Gauge
  • Altimeter
  • Temperature Gauge 
  • Oil Temperature Gauge 
  • Fuel Gauge
  • Landing Gear Position Indicator 
  • Anti-Collision Lights 
  • Magnetic Compass
  • Emergency Location Transmitter 
  • Safety Belts

In addition to the equipment listed above, you also need a flashlight in case you need to make an emergency landing at night, landing lights to help you see the runway when landing at night, an anti-collision light to help other aircraft see you at night, and position lights to help other aircraft see you both day and night.

A Tomato Flames Flaps’ is an acronym for the following equipment:

  • All Tomato Flames equipment
  • Flashlight
  • Landing lights
  • Anti-collision light
  • Position lights (for VFR flight at night)

Why Is It Important To Know About These Acronyms?

small plane
small plane

Safety Reasons: The acronyms can help VFR pilots ensure that they have all the essential equipment they need to monitor the aircraft’s performance, navigate safely, and communicate with other aircraft. 

Legal Operation: According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), it is illegal to operate a VFR aircraft without the minimum required equipment in many countries. By using A Tomato Flames and A Tomato Flames Flaps as pre-flight checklists, pilots can ensure that they are complying with all applicable laws and regulations.

Professionalism: Using A Tomato Flames as a pre-flight checklist shows that the pilot is taking their safety and the safety of their passengers seriously. 

According to a study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), pilot error is a factor in over 80% of all general aviation accidents. Of these accidents, a significant number are caused by pilots failing to check A Tomato Flames before takeoff.

How To Use A Tomato Flames And A Tomato Flames Flaps?

To use A Tomato Flames and A Tomato Flames Flaps, simply follow these steps:

Step 1. Read the acronym aloud to remember all of the items on the list.

Step 2. Perform an inspection of your aircraft to ensure all are present, functional, and securely fastened. 

Step 3. If you find any items that are missing, inoperative, or not secured, do not fly until those items have been repaired or replaced.

In sudden emergencies, pilots should use their A Tomato Flames and A Tomato Flames Flaps equipment to help them stay safe and communicate with other aircraft. If a pilot loses power at night, they can use a flashlight to see their instruments and an anti-collision light to be seen by other aircraft.

According to our experience, A Tomato Flames and A Tomato Flames Flaps also apply to drones. Just replace the aircraft-specific items on the list with the equivalent items on your drone. 

For example, you would use a ground speed indicator instead of an airspeed indicator or an altimeter instead of a barometer.


In addition to the safety benefits, using A Tomato Flames and Flaps can also help you to fly more efficiently. Taking the time to use both acronyms in your pre-flight checklist is a small investment that can pay off in terms of safety. 

So next time, if you’re preparing for a VFR flight mission, don’t forget to check them

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Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde

Ken W Hyde is the founder of The Wright Experience™. He is passionate about antique airplanes and has restored many of the Wright brothers' planes, including the 1918 Curtiss Jenny and the 1903 Wright Flyer. He is also a pilot and mechanic who has worked for Capital Airlines, Bendix Corporation, and American Airlines.

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