What Does Mayday Mean?

Discover the origins and significance of the internationally recognized distress signal, mayday. Learn how it has been used to save lives in emergencies.


Mayday is an internationally recognized distress signal used by aircraft, ships, and other vehicles to indicate that they are in grave and imminent danger. The term has its origins in the French phrase “m’aider,” which means “help me.” Let’s explore the history, significance, and usage of the mayday signal.


The Mayday distress signal was first introduced in 1923 at the International Radio Telegraph Convention in London. It was chosen because it sounded similar to the French word for help, making it easy to understand and remember.


Mayday is reserved for situations where there is a threat to life or property. When a distress call is made using the mayday signal, all nearby vessels and authorities are required to respond and provide assistance.


The mayday signal is typically repeated three times to ensure that it is clearly understood. It is followed by relevant information such as the nature of the emergency, the location of the distressed craft, and the number of people on board.


One famous example of the mayday signal being used is the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The radio operators sent out distress calls using the CQD and SOS signals, but it was the first time the mayday signal could have been used.

Case Studies

In 2018, a small plane crashed in a remote area, and the pilot used the mayday signal to call for help. Thanks to the prompt response of emergency services, the pilot was rescued within hours.


According to the International Maritime Organization, there were over 7,000 distress calls made using the mayday signal in 2020. These calls resulted in the successful rescue of thousands of people in distress.


Mayday is a powerful distress signal that has saved countless lives over the years. Its simple yet effective message ensures that help is always just a call away in times of crisis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *