The Official Avatar Aang Fan Club did not just adore Aang, they chose to ressurect and adopt Air Nomad culture and lifestyle despite themselves being foreign to the culture. Aang respected them and as a representive Air Nomad, adopted them into his culture as "Air Acolytes".
Under Aangs teaching and restoring of the Air Temples, the Air Acolytes not only grew in numbers but birthed their own generations, all while keeping Air Nomad teachings alive through them.
The war refugees in the Northern Temples contributed to the Air Acolytes with gliders and technology which allowed them to mimic airbending ways.
The Air Acolytes learned how to care for Flying Bisons, Flying Lemurs and other airbending creatures, pretty much bringing them back from the brink of extinction. They also mastered the cultural ways that were lost to the Air Nomads.
Under Avatar Aang and Tenzin's teachings, the Air Acolytes preserved the traditions of Air Nomad culture after their genocide for over a century.
The Harmonic Convergence finally brings Airbenders back to the world, from all those who became airbenders to fill the absence of airbenders for only a century it only made one of them a known airbender.
I know the Air Acolytes are not about emotional baggage but they still got a raw deal out of all of it. There are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of them distributes among 5 temples, and only one of them is a new-age airbender? Thats like a catering crew to prepare a feast and barely getting the scraps. It's likely a few short years time the new Airbenders may outpopulate the Air Acolytes due to majority in numbers. The silver-lining would be some of that outpopulation could be due to airbenders breeding with Acolytes and birthing Air Acolyte airbenders.
(On a side note I wonder if the Harmonic Convergence also granted Earth, Fire and Waterbending to a few as well? Pressuming each faction of benders were of uneven ammounts.)
I can imagine there are actually more Acolytes-turned-airbenders than just Otaku. And yeah, the Acolytes are an order of mostly nonbenders so it's not a stretch to meet acolytes that are now "living the dream".
Yeah, but most of the HC airbenders are not all Normads. Some choosing to stay with family or material wealth. The bulk of the new-age AIr Normads were mostly Earth Kingdom prisoners for the queens army... and one air normad.