Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mayday; M’aider; May Day

Mayday Mayday Mayday is used in military operations throughout the world as a signal of distress in radio communications.  But do you know where it came from?

A man called Frederick Stanley Mockford coined the term in 1923, when he was working at Croydon Airport (London) as a radio officer.  Most of the air traffic at that time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport (Paris), so he adopted a French phrase in emergency situations, to summon help from French pilots and ground staff.  “Venez m’aider” (pronounced ven-ay may-day) translates as “come help me” and from that point on, Mayday stuck.

To signal distress, the call must be given three times in a row ("Mayday Mayday Mayday") to prevent any confusion in noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call.

This piece of nerdy trivia comes to you today because it is May Day (1st May) and because I can write about whatever I darn like.

p.s. It’s Summer!  It’s here!

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