How (not to) Skydive Like a Pro

I hate heights. Absolutely hate them. But for some reason, I enjoy putting myself through emotional turmoil by doing things like riding roller coasters and bungee jumping. Skydiving has been on my "things that will terrify and possibly kill me but could end up being decently fun" bucket list for awhile, and Australia sounds like a pretty great place to do it. If I'm going to die by slamming my body into the ground, at least it will be a very pretty piece of ground.

I book skydiving a solid month before my Australian adventure, mostly so I am forced to pay my credit card bill before leaving for my trip and therefore would have to swallow the fact that I willingly threw away hundreds of dollars in the event that I decide to wimp out. I receive two different confirmation emails after clicking the "purchase" button. Both of them remind me of the astronomical amount of money I've invested in voluntarily ending my life and the second email says ... wait, what's that word?

WTF is a heli-skydive? Am I jumping out of a HELICOPTER? Cue frantic attempts at contacting the skydive company. After two emails go unanswered, I resort to Twitter, Facebook and lastly a phone call that tells me I have a wrong number. I. Am. Panicking. Skydive Australia, you're on my list.

The problem is, I've never been in a helicopter. One "first" for  the day (that first being shaking hands with death) is about all I can handle at a time. I realize that it really doesn't matter what aircraft I choose. Helicopter, plane, hovercraft or flying pig: I'm still free-falling at 14,000 feet toward my own demise. By choice. But still. A girl can only handle so much. Planes, I understand. We go way back. Helicopters ... I just ... no.

I eventually hear back from Skydive Australia (it really didn't take that long; I'm just a paranoid freak), and, just my luck, they don't have a plane anymore. Just two helicopters. Two "firsts" it is.

My skydive adventure begins at 6:40 a.m. outside a Holiday Inn in Kings Cross, where random drunkards are still piggyback riding through the streets and slurring karaoke songs. A small van pulls up to take us to the jump site. Our driver, the quintessential Aussie who would make a career out of skydiving, ushers my friend, Julia, and I into the van along with six strangers. We arrive at the jump site an hour later without incident and confirm our bookings, then I slip away to the bathroom to ward off the possibility of peeing on my tandem jumper when he hurls me out of a helicopter.

Also, yes. I brought Safari Sam with me for support. No, he didn't really help calm my nerves.

I return from the bathroom to hear my name being yelled repeatedly. I've been here for approximately 10 minutes, but it's time to get dressed for my jump. Oh, and by the way, I'm going in the first load.