Why do pilots shout `Mayday, Mayday’ when they are in trouble?

When a pilot is in serious trouble and wishes to let air-traffic control know that he has a problem, he usually shouts, `Mayday, Mayday, Mayday’. The term is always shouted three times in a row. The expression `Mayday’ has been used as an international distress signal in radio communications since 1927. `Mayday’ has nothing to do with the month of May. The expression comes from the French `m’aider’, which is the shortened form of `venez m’aider’, meaning `come help me’.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ ( The Hindu) -April 09, 2007


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