An investigation into the application of an observer based sliding mode controller for robust control of a highly unstable aircraft and methods of compensating for actuator dynamics is performed. After a brief overview of some reconfigurable controllers, sliding mode control (SMC) is selected because of its invariance properties and lack of need for parameter identification. SMC is reviewed and issues with parasitic dynamics, which cause system instability, are addressed. Utilizing sliding manifold boundary layers, the nonlinear control is converted to a linear control and sliding manifold design is performed in the frequency domain. An additional feedback form of model reference hedging is employed which is similar to a prefilter and has large benefits to system performance. The effects of inclusion of actuator dynamics into the designed plant is heavily investigated. Multiple Simulink models of the full longitudinal dynamics and wing deflection modes of the forward swept aero elastic vehicle (FSAV) are constructed. Additionally a linear state space models to analyze effects from various system parameters. The FSAV has a pole at +7 rad/sec and is non-minimum phase. The use of 'model actuators' in the feedback path, and varying there design, is heavily investigated for the resulting effects on plant robustness and tolerance to actuator failure. The use of redundant actuators is also explored and improved robustness is shown. All models are simulated with severe failure and excellent tracking, and task dependent handling qualities, and low pilot induced oscillation tendency is shown.