On US Navy boats
, flight quarters
is sounded when a helicopter
is either inbound or is going to be launched.
When flight quarters was sounded, this is the message that would be read over the 1MC (speakers in our hangar):
Flight quarters, flight quarters.
All hands man your flight quarter stations.
The smoking lamp is out
Wear no hats topside
Throw no trash over the side
A team of folks that were from the ship (we called these people Shoes) came into the hangar and suited up to launch, recover or refuel the helo. Everyone was color-coded for their job. The fire and rescue team wore red shirts, the refueling team wore purple shirts (Grapes), the safety man wore a white shirt with a red cross on his helmet, the flight deck director wore yellow (he gave the signals to the pilot on what they needed to do), the chocks-and-chains team wore brown, and my team wore green for aviation technicians (we were called Airdales).
The helo would come in, get refueled, have a crew swap, then take off. If it was the last flight, they'd come in and shut down. After the helo was gone or shut down, flight quarters would be secured.
If you were on the flight deck team, you were paid an extra $160US/month. The very first thing that a helo would do when it was assigned to a ship would be to do 16 "bounces", where they'd land and then take off 16 times. That qualified the team to get their first month of flight deck pay.