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Mayday, mayday, mayday!
What is a Mayday call?
Mayday is a distress call that is used to signal a life-threatening emergency, usually on a ship or a plane, although it may be used in a variety of other situations. A typical distress call will start with the word “Mayday" being said three times in a row so that it is not mistaken for another similar-sounding word or phrase. This is followed by relaying the information that rescuers would need, including the nature of the emergency, the location or last known location, current weather, type and identity of craft involved, fuel remaining and the number of people in danger. The distress call has absolute priority over all other transmissions.
How did it originate?
The Mayday call originated in the 1920s. A senior radio officer at London’s Croydon Airport in London, Frederick Stanley Mockford, was the first to use this signal to indicate emergency situations. Mockford was asked by his seniors to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff during an emergency. As much of the traffic at Croydon airport at that time was to and from Le Bourget Airport in Paris, Mockford proposed the expression “Mayday" derived from the French word “m’aider" that means “help me" and is a shortened form of “venez m’aider", which means “come and help me".
Last week's word
ballot box /ˈbalət ˌbɒks/
a sealed box into which voters put completed ballots.
• the ballot box - democratic principles and methods: the proper remedy was the ballot box and not the court.