November 22, 2011 at 11:49 PM CST - Updated August 22 at 5:23 AM
Lafayette -- Barry Tanner gave up motorcycle racing to fly the skies. He began refurbishing old airplanes, learned how to fly aerobatics, and logged over a million miles in eight years flying pipeline patrols over south Louisiana.
These days, Tanner flies his own homemade airplane, a replica of a World War II P-51 Mustang -- a long-range fighter that protected Allied bombers over Germany.
"The P-51 could go all the way to Berlin and back, which was a good eight-to-10 hour ride," Tanner said. "You really just fly a long time under a lot of hard conditions, so that really helped out the bombers. They were safer."
The wingspan on airplane is 18.5 feet, which is exactly half the size of a real P-51 Mustang.
It took five years to construct the midget Mustang in Tanner's garage. He had to fabricate many of the parts. Piece by piece, the pint-sized fighter plane came to life.
"It is a big shell, but on the inside, in order to make everything work, you need a lot of cables, pulleys, you need all kinds of radio equipment and instrumentation," Tanner said. "None of that is going to be in there. You got to do it all -- the painting, you got to cut out the aluminum. It is a lot more than people realize."
The end result is an attention grabber at airports.
"Everywhere I go, people come out of the woodwork to look at it."
And when Tanner takes to the skies over Southwest Louisiana, the little P-51 becomes a 200 mph adrenaline rush.