The dramatic attempt to free the hostages began yesterday when six Hercules C130 transport planes set off to rendezvous with a group of nine helicopters at a remote desert airstrip, south-east of Tehran.
But the mission ran into trouble almost as soon as it had started
Two helicopters went down with engine trouble, and a third was diverted to help.
Then another helicopter was damaged as it landed on the airstrip, leaving only five workable helicopters. The mission had become impossible.
President Carter ordered the operation to abort. It was then that the farce became a tragedy.
As the aircraft took off again, another helicopter crashed into one of the C130 aircraft and burst into flames. Eight soldiers died, and another four men suffered burns.
At that point, the 52 hostages has been held for 174 days. It would be another 270 days before they would finally leave Iran.
The full story of that mission, and just how badly planned and executed it was, can be found here.
That morning, President Carter took to the airwaves:
It was the final event that marked the end of Carter’s Presidency.