This paper presents simulation and airborne test results for a quadrotor equipped with an actively-variable compliance manipulator for contact interaction. Typical applications of this type of manipulator might include sensor placement operations and non-destructive testing. It is shown that through the use of the proposed manipulator, the force experienced at the end-effector can be adaptively controlled, and the effect of interactions on the aircraft itself minimised. Simulation and airborne results show a consistent correlation between the peak loads experienced at the end-effector and the actuator gains. A lightweight, adaptively-compliant actuator of this type offers the opportunity not only to tailor different demanded forces at the end-effector, but also to shape the loads applied - effects which can be achieved by changing only the software structure and tuning of the actuator control system.