Meet Dave & Kathy
Sunsational SkySports is owned and operated by Dave and Kathy Reineke. Started in late 2000, Sunsational SkySports operates the Bud E. Beaver Hot Air Balloon, a special shape balloon created out of their passion for ballooning, travel and childrens' smiles. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa; Dave and Kathy have lived in Champaign, Illinois since 1977. They make ballooning a family activity with daughters Kyla and Kari, who also love the sport.
Dave and Kathy share many memorable moments from ballooning over the years. Dave's came in March 2002 when he traveled to New Zealand to take part in two invitational balloon events with Mr. Potato Head. Dave's flights took him over the dramatic and beautiful New Zealand countryside, definitely an experience he will long remember. Kathy's most memorable event was competing in the first ever U.S. Women's National Championships in 1999. Over the ten-day event, Kathy faced stiff winds and competition placing second overall.
The Reineke's have been active in the sport of ballooning ever since 1978 when Dave took his first hot air balloon ride. Dave received his pilot's license in 1981 with Kathy getting her license in 1983. Dave and Kathy bought their first hot air balloon in 1982 named "Big Bird." In 1994, after 12 years of flying, Dave and Kathy retired "Big Bird" and donated the balloon to the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum in Rantoul, Illinois. To this day, "Big Bird" rests in the Balloon Room maintained by the members of the Balloon Association of Greater Illinois.
"Sunsational " replaced "Big Bird" in 1994 and was joined by "Sunsational Too" in 1998. 2000 brought a partnership with friends in a "cloud-hopper," a one person balloon named "Mini Me." Sunsational was replaced in 2001 with a new balloon bearing the same name. Mr. Potato Head® joined the Sunsational SkySports stables in 2001, as the Reineke's first special shape balloon. Mr. Potato Head delighted young and old from Maine to Nevada, Canada and even New Zealand during his three seasons. Bud E. Beaver took to the skies in July 2004.
Dave and Kathy compete in several events throughout the country including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Kathy is a two-time winner of the Macomb Balloon Rally, champion of the 1998 Terre Haute Balloon Rally and top ten finisher in several balloon races throughout the Midwest. Dave won the 2000 Peoria Balloon Festival and has also been a top ten finisher in several Midwest events. Dave and Kathy combined have over 1000 hours of flying experience over their Lighter-than-Air careers.