Demonstrating the reliability of flight control algorithms is critical to integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the civilian airspace. For many potential applications, design and certification of these algorithms will rely heavily on mathematical models of the aircraft dynamics. Therefore, the aerospace community must develop flight test platforms to support the advancement of model-based techniques. The University of Minnesota has developed a test platform dedicated to model-based flight research for unmanned aircraft systems. This thesis provides an overview of the test platform and its research activities in the areas of system identification, model validation, and closed-loop control for small unmanned aircraft.