A young Chinese man became…
…(with the help of a realistic silicone mask)…
…an old white man.
A young Asian man wants to sneak aboard a flight from Hong Kong to Canada, so he wears a realistic-looking silicone mask of an elderly white man. After the flight is airborne for several hours, he removes the mask. It turns out he’s a guy from China seeking asylum in Canada, and likely paid a smuggling ring to arrange it.
This brings up a few questions:
The most obvious is how did he fool so many people by wearing a mask? Was the mask that realistic looking? Don’t the people at the Hong Kong airport look at people, and especially don’t the people boarding the planes look at the passengers closely? Did he somehow manage to stay far away from other people? And how could he sit far away if he was sitting right next to passengers on a plane? Was this a case of one damn fine deceptive mask, or was this a case of all white elderly guys look alike?
(It may have been one fine deceptive mask, because I believe it’s a silicone mask from SPFX masks and is called "The Elder")
"The elder" is a good silicone mask, but even the creator of these type of masks says they wouldn’t fool someone close up.
His mask was enhanced with a costume that made him look old (helped by a standard in old guy clothing – a brown cardigan), as well as a hat to disguise his head, and glasses that helped disguise his eyes. These probably helped conceal any flaws in the mask, especially around the eyes where the mask was cut so he could see.
How was he able to look and act like an old man? Maybe the young guy was scared, and so he closed down a bit so he wouldn’t draw attention to himself, and that perfectly mimicked the look of an old man who didn’t have a lot of energy.
One report said that the guy doesn’t even speak English. But maybe this helped him – because if he didn’t have to speak at all, there would be no clash between his speech and his appearance. (And even if he did speak English, he would have to speak old white man English.)
Also, I think some reports said that the mask’s mouth was unable to open. This would help make the mask’s mouth look more realistic because it wouldn’t have to be attached to his real mouth. Also, if he didn’t speak, the jaw and mouth wouldn’t have to move, which would make the entire mask more deceptive.
An intelligence alert said that he had "young looking hands," so he obviously didn’t put makeup or silicone aging gloves on his hands. But he did have regular gloves in another bag, so maybe he wore gloves while he was disguised as the old man. But if he didn’t wear gloves, why didn’t anyone notice the disparity between his hands and his face?
So, was he getting away with his disguise until he removed it? And why did he remove it? A direct flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver does last over 11 hours. Maybe since it was a full-head mask he was sweltering inside, and it was so uncomfortable he couldn’t stand the heat that long.
He needed documents to board the plane, so he showed a U.S. passport of a white man born in 1955. If we assume that someone saw this passport, why didn’t they realize that if he was born in 1955 he would only be 55 years old, and that he shouldn’t look like he was 85 years old?
Finally, if passengers are required to present identification at the airport, how did he get into the more secure areas? That’s simple – he probably presented his own identification right up to the point where he had to board, ducked into a restroom, got a passport from someone else, and became the old man.
An update: Members of the smuggling ring were arrested, including "a member of the ground staff at Hong Kong International Airport and two former airport employees." They may have "smuggled at least nine illegal migrants to Canada." Hong Kong human smuggling network linked to masked migrant, The Vancouver Sun>>
Stowaway Has Canada and Hong Kong Scrambling, The New York Times>>
Passenger in disguise described as ‘ordinary citizen’, CNN>>