During the week, Ricky pilots passenger jets traveling around the world for one of Hong Kong’s flagship airlines, Cathay Pacific. But when the weekend arrives, he sheds his pilot cap and blazer in exchange for a face mask and helmet, and goes out to join the anti-government protests which have dominated the semi-autonomous Chinese city over the past four months.
Ricky spoke to CNN using a pseudonym on condition of anonymity. He says his double life as a pilot and a protester is exhausting, but he says it’s worth the risk to be part of what he sees as a battle to save his city.
“I (had) been acting as a so-called ‘aggressive’ protester,” Ricky says. “My role was to extinguish all the tear gas, in order to protect other citizens and protesters as well.”
But recently, Ricky says he has changed his role from a frontline protester to a first aid volunteer. The threat of losing his job loomed large following Cathay’s decision to implement stringent new rules outlawing staff from attending any protests deemed “illegal” by authorities.
“Fear is spreading,” Ricky says. “You can tell the company is being torn apart and starting to break down.”