We have often heard characters in movies use the word ‘Mayday’ to depict emergencies. The recently released Ajay Devgn’s film Runway 34 was rumoured to be called Mayday, which led to confusion among many people. Mayday is usually used when there is a life-or-death situation on a ship or plane but can be used in other scenarios as well.
A typical distress situation is said to start with the word ‘Mayday’ being said 3 times in a row. This is then followed by the information that is necessary to understand the nature of the emergency, such as the location, fuel remaining and the number of people in danger.
The Mayday call originated in the 1920s when a senior radio officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford became the first to use this signal to indicate an emergency at London’s Croydon Airport in London. Mockford was asked by his superiors to think of a word that would indicate distress and can be easily understood by any other pilots and ground staff.
The word is derived from the French word m’aider, which means ‘help me’. Earlier, the term SOS, which is short for ‘save our souls’ was used. This term was popularly used in Morse code. In 1927, the Internation Radiotelegraph Convention adopted Mayday as the radiotelephone distress call in place of SOS. Apart from SOS, many other words like Pan-Pan have been used.
How to Use?
The pilot or ship’s captain must call out “Mayday Mayday Mayday” loudly. Following this, they have to read aloud the name of his station, aircraft/ship’s call sign and type, nature of the emergency, weather, intentions and requests, present position and heading. In case the vehicle is lost than the last known position has to be included with the other information.