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GOOSE A CAT is an acronym for a checklist of all the equipment required to operate an aircraft in the United States during the day under VFR conditions. All of these instruments or systems must be in the aircraft and functioning, at a minimum. Why is there such a mnemonic? Because you may be asked this on either your pilot's written exam or oral exam or both - and at your biennial flight reviews - and because you should know these things.

  • G - Gas. A working fuel gauge for each fuel tank must be available.
  • O - Oil Pressure. An oil pressure gauge showing current engine oil pressure; if you lose oil pressure in a single or twin-engined airplane, you need to get on the ground as fast as is safely possible.
  • O - Oil Temperature. A temperature gauge showing the current engine oil temp.
  • S - Seat belts. Seat belts and shoulder harnesses must be available for pilot and passengers.
  • E - ELT. An Emergency Locator Transmitter must be present and its batteries charged.
  • A - Altimeter. A working altimeter is a necessity so you know how much air you have below you and how close the ground is. The ground is very hard.
  • C - Compass. At the minimum, a magnetic compass must be available in the aircraft. Most aircraft also have a heading indicator, a gyrocompass which is set to the magnetic compass' reading before takeoff.
  • A - Airspeed indicator. Safety in an airplane is highly dependent on knowing how fast you're going in relation to the surrounding air. Too slow and you'll stall; too fast and the airplane might suffer structural damage if hit by a sudden wind gust.
  • T - Tachometer - so that you can be sure your engine is operating properly.

Most airplanes fly with more than these instruments available - directional gyros, vertical speed indicator, turn coordinator, artificial horizon and radio navigation instruments are all common. However, this acronym is meant to help pilots remember the absolute legal minimum. It's not completely correct, to be honest; for one thing, it doesn't include instruments that you'd find on a complex airplane. I've found that ATOMATOEFLAMES is better for the 'full' list. The actual 'official list' can be found in the U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) or Title 14 CFR §91.205(b) and is more exhaustive and much harder to remember:

  1. Airspeed indicator.
  2. Altimeter.
  3. Magnetic direction indicator.
  4. Tachometer for each engine.
  5. Oil pressure gauge for each engine using pressure system.
  6. Temperature gauge for each liquid-cooled engine.
  7. Oil temperature gauge for each air-cooled engine.
  8. Manifold pressure gauge for each altitude engine.
  9. Fuel gauge indicating the quantity of fuel in each tank.
  10. Landing gear position indicator, if the aircraft has a retractable landing gear.
  11. For small civil airplanes certificated after March 11, 1996, in accordance with part 23 of this chapter, an approved aviation red or aviation white anticollision light system. In the event of failure of any light of the anticollision light system, operation of the aircraft may continue to a location where repairs or replacement can be made.
  12. If the aircraft is operated for hire over water and beyond power-off gliding distance from shore, approved flotation gear readily available to each occupant and, unless the aircraft is operating under part 121 of this subchapter, at least one pyrotechnic signaling device. As used in this section, “shore” means that area of the land adjacent to the water which is above the high water mark and excludes land areas which are intermittently under water.
  13. An approved safety belt with an approved metal-to-metal latching device for each occupant 2 years of age or older.
  14. For small civil airplanes manufactured after July 18, 1978, an approved shoulder harness for each front seat. The shoulder harness must be designed to protect the occupant from serious head injury when the occupant experiences the ultimate inertia forces specified in §23.561(b)(2) of this chapter. Each shoulder harness installed at a flight crewmember station must permit the crewmember, when seated and with the safety belt and shoulder harness fastened, to perform all functions necessary for flight operations. For purposes of this paragraph—
    1. The date of manufacture of an airplane is the date the inspection acceptance records reflect that the airplane is complete and meets the FAA-approved type design data; and
    2. A front seat is a seat located at a flight crewmember station or any seat located alongside such a seat.
  15. An emergency locator transmitter, if required by §91.207.
  16. For normal, utility, and acrobatic category airplanes with a seating configuration, excluding pilot seats, of 9 or less, manufactured after December 12, 1986, a shoulder harness for—
    1. Each front seat that meets the requirements of §23.785 (g) and (h) of this chapter in effect on December 12, 1985;
    2. Each additional seat that meets the requirements of §23.785(g) of this chapter in effect on December 12, 1985.
  17. For rotorcraft manufactured after September 16, 1992, a shoulder harness for each seat that meets the requirements of §27.2 or §29.2 of this chapter in effect on September 16, 1991.

Other acronyms I've come across used to remember this information include ATOMATOEFLAMES, AFASTMOOSE and ATOMSATOMS.