Falling thousands of feet from the sky with their heads pointing toward the ground, 138 people from 17 countries joined hands earlier this month to form the largest recorded skydiving formation over Ottawa, Ill., setting a world record.
Eric M. Busto, 30, a 2000 graduate of Watertown High School, was part of the group that dove 15 times from about 18,000 feet to get the formation and photo perfect for Guinness World Records.
Because he and his girlfriend, Chaovalai Chulasawan, are active members of the West Coast skydiving community, they were invited to a world record tryout camp in Perris Valley, Calif.
It seemed like the logical thing to do, Mr. Busto said.
The record-breaking dive took place over three days during the first week of August. Mr. Busto called it an exercise in patience because of the number of times it took to get the formation right, with divers rushing from freezing to sweltering within seconds and spending hours sitting in an airplane.
The skydivers had only seconds to set the formation before the first group of people broke away at 7,000 feet to deploy their parachutes.
Mr. Busto, now a resident of San Jose, Calif., said he was never a daredevil child while growing up in Watertown and Dexter.
Im actually a pretty conservative person, he said. Im not an adrenaline junkie. Growing up, I was mostly behind computers or reading books.
Mr. Busto said there were no drop zones in the north country where he could have tried skydiving even if he had been interested while growing up.
Watertowns a pretty quiet place, he said. I kind of do miss that its a simple, quiet town.
Mr. Busto left the region shortly after graduating from high school to find better job prospects in information technology. He said he attended community college at De Anza College, Cupertino, Calif.
His first dive was in 2005. Since then, he has jumped more than 2,000 times.
I had a friend who was organizing a tandem skydiving trip, he said of his first experience. It was very exhilarating. Its a great distraction from everyday life.
Mr. Busto is an information technology systems coordinator for NVIDIA, a computer processing company in the Silicon Valley.
It seemed like an environment that I wanted to be a part of, he said. Its not so much about the adrenaline, in the long run. Its about the challenge.