Most of you have probably seen this movie before. Something has just gone wrong with the airplane or spaceship, and it’s spiraling out of control. Right before it touches down, stranding the main characters on a desert island, alien planet, or whatever hostile environment they’ll have to survive, the pilot yells “mayday, mayday!” over the radio.
So why does this situation always happen on May 1st? Isn’t that a bit odd? Is there a conspiracy we don’t know about? Well, “Mayday” is actually one of the few pieces of pilot shorthand most people are familiar with; but have you ever wondered what it means? What exactly are pilots telling each other when they say “mayday” and other code words?
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So what does “mayday” mean? 0:50
What’s next? 2:56
Problems that are almost emergencies (but not quite) 4:03
Other distress procedure words 5:59
Where these words come from 6:14
“Roger,” “wilco,” “over,” and “out” 7:25
#secretcodes #planes #brightside
– “Mayday” and other words like it are known as procedure words or prowords. These phrases are used to convey information quickly over the radio, which is essential when there’s an emergency at thirty thousand feet.
– “Mayday” is the spoken equivalent of SOS, and is the most urgent kind of distress call.
– Basically, it covers anything that would require an emergency landing or the deployment of emergency services, such as ambulance or fire crews.
– In some cases, pilots might instead say that they’re “declaring an emergency.” This phrase has the same meaning as “mayday” but is discouraged by groups such as the International Civil Aviation Organization.
– The call is followed by a message that contains all the information responders might need.
– Emergency calls are serious business, and regulatory agencies like the FAA don’t take kindly to their misuse. Ignore that warning, and you might find yourself on the wrong end of a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar fine!
– One step down from “mayday” is “pan-pan,” or “XXX” in Morse code. This signals that the craft needs assistance, but no one is in immediate physical danger.
– “Pan-pan” is also used when someone aboard has a medical problem that the captain doesn’t consider an emergency.
– Other distress procedure words include, but are not limited to, “sécurité,” for reporting navigation hazards, and “seelonce mayday” or “seelonce distress” for requesting a frequency be restricted to emergency communications.
– The term “mayday” was introduced in 1921 by a British air traffic controller named Frederick Stanley Mockford. He had often heard French pilots use the word m’aider when in distress. That means “help me” in French but resembles the words “May” and “day.”
– “Over” means that you are finished speaking and waiting for a response, while “out” means that no reply is necessary.
– Other common prowords include phrases like “this is,” “say again” and “correction,” which are at least self-explanatory. These words and phrases are instrumental when you need to convey information quickly over the radio.
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