CALGARY - Relatives of one of three men who died when their small plane crashed into a mountainside in Antarctica have issued a statement paying tribute to him.

Mike Denton of Calgary was on board a Twin Otter operated by Kenn Borek Air, along with pilot Bob Heath of Inuvik, N.W.T., and Perry Andersen of Collingwood, Ont.

Their plane had left the Amundsen-Scott station and was en route to an Italian research base when its emergency locator beacon began transmitting a signal.

For several days, bad weather hampered rescue efforts but when searchers finally spotted the wreckage, they said it was not possible that anyone had survived.

Officials have said it will not be possible to try to recover the bodies until October, when winter in Antarctica is over and a new research season begins.

Denton's memorial service will be held in Calgary on Friday.

His family remembered the newlywed Thursday as "thoughtful, honest, conscientious, hardworking" and said he had a playful sense of humour.

They thanked supporters for their kind words and prayers and said they sent their thoughts to the families of Heath and Andersen.

"We would like to thank Kenn Borek Air for their constant and open communication during the search for the aircraft, and all those involved in the international search and rescue effort," said the statement.

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