There’s No ‘R’ in TOMATO FLAMES
In the age of instant information, it’s easy to forget that
the FAA does not require a radio for VFR flight. FAR 91.205 (b)
outlines which instruments must be in an aircraft flying in
VFR conditions. An easy way to remember them is the
acronym “TOMATO FLAMES”:
Temperature gauge (liquid cooled)
Oil temperature (air cooled)
Landing gear position
It reminded me just how simple and pure flying can be. Pilots have an
amazing gift. When we so desire, we can escape our busy lives on the ground
and enter another world. Without a radio, that world becomes even more
delightful because we now have just one thing to think about—flying.
I’ve always been intrigued with how blind or deaf people often make better
use of their other senses. I learned recently that a blind person’s other senses
are no better developed than those of a person with sight. Blind people do,
however, tend to use their other senses more effectively and with more
awareness, out of necessity. This is fascinating in how it relates to flying
without a radio. We all have the same senses whether we fly with a radio or
not; it’s just a matter of how effectively we use them.
Flying without a radio made me more aware of my other senses. And the
more I see, hear, feel, and smell, the safer and more enjoyable flying is.
If you’ve always flown with a radio, I encourage you to find an airport
where radio-less airplanes are common and bum a flight with a local pilot, or
just turn your radio off for a day. I think you’ll find the lack of radio is not only
a peaceful way to fly, but the experience will also help you be a better pilot
when you do have a radio.
Brady Lane, EAA 808095, is a multimedia journalist for EAA and a sport pilot. Visit
for a link to videos from his training flights and the online discussion at Oshkosh365.