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Big Air Force One in for maintenance, Obama flies smaller plane

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The military planes that fly the president of the United States are always called Air Force One when the commander in chief is on board, but not all of the jets are equally large -- or equally nice.

So it was that President Barack Obama, his staff and accompanying press corps flew on one of the smaller planes in the fleet during his travels to Michigan and Illinois on Wednesday. The reason? The main jets were both in maintenance.

"The VC-25 is undergoing some routine maintenance, so we're traveling on the C-32 today," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, who crowded into the tighter space of the smaller plane for the regular "gaggle," or briefing, on the trip.

"It is our hope that that maintenance will be completed in time for any travel that may be on the horizon next week."

Obama travels to Texas next week. He just returned from a multi-day trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia. For that trip, he used one of the bigger planes.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Leslie Adler)