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About the Origin of the Term Mayday?

Mayday is an emergency code word used internationally as a distress signal in radio communications. It is derived from the French m’aider – the infinitive form of the reflexive verb “help me.” It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency. The term is always used three times to prevent any misunderstandings.

Use of the term “mayday” to signify an emergency was started in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford, who was a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. Mr. Mockford was asked to create a word to indicate an emergency that would be easily understood by pilots and ground staff. At the time, most of the airport’s traffic was from Le Bourget Airport in Paris, so Mr. Mockford proposed the English translateraion of m’aider, arguing that both English and French pilots would recognize the word.