Students were curious why the word „MayDay“ is used for S.O.S. although it is the word primarily used for the Labour Day celebrated on Sept. 1st everywhere in the world besides the U.S.A. I found out…
Mayday is an emergency word used internationally as a distress signal in voice communication. It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by aviators and mariners but in some countries local organizations such as firefighters, police forces and transportation organizations also use it.
The call is always given three times in a row (Mayday, Mayday, Mayday) to prevent its being mistaken for similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions.
Mayday was used the 1st time in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford (1897-1962). He was a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London and made it up. It is the simpliest word that all people will understand it.
Mayday comes from the French „m’aider“ (a shortened version of „venez m’aider“ which means „come and help me“).
Mayday is preferred to S.O.S. because the letter „S“ is difficult to decode it by telephone.