Why do pilots say Mayday instend of SOS?
In trouble – send an SOS signal. We knew this rule for hundreds of books and films. However, in reality, in case of danger, pilots of airliners or captains of distressed ships get in touch and say something completely different. Not SOS.
The fact is that pilots repeat loudly and distinctly three times: “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!”
And what does it mean?
The point is simple harmony. Also, it is easily recognizable.
In 1923 Frederick Mockford invented this phrase. He was the senior radio operator at London’s airport. He had a task to come up with a code message that would not be like ordinary commands transmitted by radio. And at the same time it would mean SOS and is easy to remember. They repeat the phrase three times, when Mayday is used in an emergency situation.
Mockford proposed Mayday. He explained that it sounds almost like a French call for help: m’aidez (short for venez m’aider – “come to help”). And then why the French? It is because the fact that most often from this airport pilots had to fly to Paris.
Since then, the word “Mayday” flying over the radio waves means that trouble has happened somewhere. Help is urgently needed. This signal has become an international standard.