I'm currently studying for an IR (US). One of the exam practice questions concerns an IAP having only circling minimums, and references 5-4-20(c) of the AIM, which reads:
Straight-in Minimums are shown on the IAP when the final approach course is within 30 degrees of the runway alignment (15 degrees for GPS IAPs) and a normal descent can be made from the IFR altitude shown on the IAP to the runway surface. When either the normal rate of descent or the runway alignment factor of 30 degrees (15 degrees for GPS IAPs) is exceeded, a straight-in minimum is not published and a circling minimum applies. The fact that a straight-in minimum is not published does not preclude pilots from landing straight-in if they have the active runway in sight and have sufficient time to make a normal approach for landing. Under such conditions and when ATC has cleared them for landing on that runway, pilots are not expected to circle even though only circling minimums are published. If they desire to circle, they should advise ATC.
I'm having trouble understanding the bolded sentence. What does it mean to land straight-in from an approach that is more than 30 degrees from runway alignment?
I've been understanding a circling approach as something like a pattern landing where you start the maneuver once you have passed the FAF and have - and can keep - the runway environment in sight. But this seems to imply something different. What am I missing? What does "a normal approach to landing" mean here?