Flight carrying evacuees from Israel lands at Tampa International Airport

Tampa International Airport welcomed a second flight carrying individuals fleeing Israel on Wednesday morning. According to Bryan Stern, the founder of Project Dynamo, the plane transported 23 Americans who were rescued from Israel. The journey took them from Israel to Cyprus, where they were then handed over to the Florida Department of Emergency Management and their contractors. The subsequent route was a bit unclear, but it is believed that they traveled from Cyprus to Athens, then to Egypt, before finally arriving in Tampa.

This particular mission marked the 602nd rescue operation conducted by Project Dynamo in the span of 25 months. Gail Zins, a mother among the rescued individuals, expressed her desire to keep her family safe and together. The Zins family, from California, initially traveled to Israel for their daughter’s schooling and vacation. However, their plans abruptly changed as they found themselves caught in the midst of rockets and bombings in a war-torn country. In their efforts to leave, they reached out to the Tampa-based nonprofit, Project Dynamo.

The Zins family vividly recalls the fear they experienced and the urgency to secure a flight back home. Talia Zins, one of the family members, described how they slept fully clothed with their shoes on, fearing they might miss the call informing them of an available plane. On Sunday, the first flight arranged by Project Dynamo brought 270 individuals to Tampa International Airport. This rescue operation was made possible through funding from the state, marking the nonprofit’s first rescue effort backed by a government agency.

Governor Ron DeSantis personally greeted the people as they disembarked from the plane on Sunday. The governor and his family were present to welcome the rescued individuals. Along with this flight, Project Dynamo has conducted three previous combat deployments since its establishment in 2021, not including their responses to Hurricane Ian and the wildfires in Maui.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management announced plans for at least three more flights to return to Tampa during the week, although no further details have been disclosed. As the Zins family finally reached their destination in the United States, they expressed relief and gratitude to be on American soil and headed home. Gail Zins summarized their profound experience, stating that they are proud to be Americans.

In conclusion, Tampa International Airport continues to facilitate the safe return of individuals fleeing the conflict in Israel, with Project Dynamo playing a crucial role in these rescue operations. The efforts of this nonprofit organization, along with the support of the state, have provided a lifeline for many Americans seeking to escape the violence and turmoil overseas.

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