Systems and methods for capturing unmanned aircraft and controlling post-recovery motion of the aircraft are disclosed herein. An aircraft system in accordance with one embodiment of the technology, for example, includes a base assembly and an aircraft capture member attached to and extending from the base assembly. The aircraft capture member has a distal region positioned to intercept an unmanned aircraft in flight. The aircraft capture member comprises an elongated telescoping rod including a plurality of discrete segments having a telescoping arrangement relative to each other. The aircraft capture member is configured to elongate or pay out from a first initial length to a second extended length greater than the first length after an unmanned aircraft intercepts and engages the distal region of the aircraft capture member.