Four women from the Red Cross Canteen handed out the sandwiches made from the original recipe used in the 1940s, when soldiers on troop trains were given free pheasant sandwiches and coffee.
"We were just giving them a taste of the bird they will be hunting," said Vera Lilly, a Red Cross Canteen member.
Nearly all 50 passengers coming off the plane ate a sandwich, with many returning for a second helping.
"This is delicious," said Lester Maxey, from San Antonio, Texas. "This is great."
He was part of a group of 15 hunters from Texas who will staying several days at the Eagle Pass Lodge in Ree Heights, about 100 miles from Aberdeen. The pheasant opener for out-of-state residents is Saturday.
Maxey's friend Ronnie Urbanczyk, also from San Antonio, said this is his fifth year coming to South Dakota to hunt the long-tailed bird.
"This is the best place I have been to," he said. "People are nice; everyone is friendly. It is a great atmosphere."
Last year, he hunted five days and got his limit of pheasants every day, he said.
Thursday was the first day Delta offered three flights into Aberdeen instead of the usual two to accommodate hunters. Each of the 50-passenger jets was full. Today, the three Delta flights, which are also completely booked, will carry 76 passengers each.
In addition to the Red Cross Canteen, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau staff members were at the airport welcoming hunters. They distributed free buttons, blaze-orange beverage wrappers and other souvenirs.
"It is great having these organizations out welcoming the hunters," said Mike Wilson, airport manager. "It is an exciting time for us."
Chuck Antonides of Columbus, Ohio, said he looks forward to coming back to South Dakota every year to hunt.
He moved away 30 years ago, but has come back to South Dakota during hunting season for the last 20 years.
"I just love being out in the fields and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city," he said. "I will do some other hunting, besides pheasants, while I am here. Probably some ducks and geese."
Lilly said that welcoming travelers to the city has been a long tradition that Red Cross Canteen members are happy to keep alive. The welcoming of the troop trains between August 1943 and March 1946 is the most memorable example of Aberdeen's hospitality, she said.
"I was a girl in high school at the time, and my mother was one of the ladies who made pheasant sandwiches for the troops," she said. "I often went to help. I remember it was quite an operation. There were long tables, and someone would put out slices of bread, and then someone would follow with the dressing and then the pheasant."
The Red Cross and USO Canteen were in the main depot of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. Volunteers served a variety of free homemade food to soldiers during the rest stops. At first the main menu item was a ground ham sandwich. That began to change in December 1943, when farmers began donating pheasants to the canteen. Workers began making chopped pheasant sandwiches that instantly became popular. The Aberdeen stop became known among the troops as the Pheasant Canteen, Lilly said.