This article focuses on the design, modeling, and control of an aerial manipulator prototype, i.e., an innovative configuration consisting of a miniature quadrotor helicopter endowed with a robotic manipulator. The overall system is designed to accomplish operations that require physical interaction with the surrounding environment while remaining airborne. To investigate the dynamical model of the aerial manipulator, a simple planar benchmark is used to analyze the interactions between the quadrotor, the robotic manipulator, and the environment. A control strategy for the planar system is designed to guarantee robustness in the presence or absence of contacts. Experiments on a real setup validate the control in the two different scenarios in which the aerial manipulator is either freely flying or physically interacting with the environment.