ATOMATOFLAMES | What to Remember Before Flight 


ATOMATOFLAMES is a fun mnemonic for serious aviation safety 

Flying an aircraft embodies a unique blend of freedom and responsibility, and understanding the fundamental safety requirements is crucial for every pilot. One indispensable mnemonic that assists aviators in ensuring all essential equipment is onboard and operational is ATOMATOFLAMES (sometimes called “Tomato Flames”. This critical checklist covers the required instruments for flight under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).  


ATOMATOFLAMES is an acronym specifically designed for smaller general aviation aircraft and student pilots. As pilots transition to turbine-powered planes, the equipment requirements become even more extensive. While larger airplanes can sometimes operate with inoperative equipment by referring to their Minimum Equipment List (MEL), smaller aircraft may have exceptions depending on their age and type of operation. ATOMATOFLAMES helps pilots remember the necessary equipment required for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) day flight in general aviation aircraft. 

  • Airspeed indicator: Displays the aircraft’s speed relative to the surrounding air.  
  • Tachometer: For measuring the rotation speed of the engine(s). 
  • Oil pressure gauge: To monitor the oil pressure in the engine. 
  • Manifold pressure gauge: For constant speed propeller aircraft, indicating the engine power output. 
  • Altimeter: An instrument to measure the aircraft’s altitude. 
  • Temperature gauge: Specifically for liquid-cooled engines, measures the engine’s temperature. 
  • Oil temperature gauge: For air-cooled engines, monitoring the engine oil’s temperature. 
  • Fuel gauge: Indicates the amount of fuel in each tank. 
  • Landing gear position indicator: Required if the aircraft has retractable landing gear, shows the position of the landing gear. 
  • Anti-collision lights: Lights intended to increase the visibility of the aircraft to others. 
  • Magnetic direction indicator: A compass or equivalent instrument to determine the aircraft’s heading. 
  • Emergency locator transmitter (ELT): A device that helps locate the aircraft in case of an emergency. 
  • Safety belts: Seatbelts for all occupants on board, ensuring safety during different phases of flight. 


Understanding the aviation acronym ATOMATOFLAMES is crucial for both aspiring and seasoned pilots alike. This checklist serves as a vital tool to ensure that aircraft are equipped with all necessary instruments for safe flight operations. By committing ATOMATOFLAMES to memory and routinely applying it during pre-flight inspections, pilots can significantly enhance their situational awareness and adherence to regulatory standards. Ultimately, mastering this acronym is not just about compliance; it’s about fostering a culture of safety and reliability in the skies, which is integral to the success of every flight. If you ever forget what a letter stands for, see FAR 91.205. 

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