Located 2.5 miles south of Selby and sandwiched between the A19 Doncaster to York road and the LNER rail line, construction of Burn began during the winter of 1941-42. Built to Class A standard, the main runway 02-20 was 1,990 yards long, 08-26 at 1,550 yards and 16-34 at 1,400 yards. The total of 36 hardstandings were pan-types but two were lost to hangar construction and two loop standings were added to replace them. Hangars consisted of a T2 and B1 on the south-west side of the technical site which lay between runway heads 02 and 08. A second T2 stood on the western side, between runway heads 08 and 16 near Burn village. The bomb stores were positioned towards the Selby Canal on the north side. Nine domestic sites for 1,805 males and 276 females were dispersed north-west beyond Burn Lane and Brick Kiln Lane as were the two communal and sick quarters sites. However, while it was common at most new stations for the planned camp not to be completed until many weeks after the airfield came into use, delays and shortages saw this work continue at Burn into the summer of 1943.
Assigned to No. 4 Group on November 11, 1942, No. 431 Squadron was formed as an RCAF unit at Burn. Initially equipped with Wellingtons, it commenced operations on the night of March 2, 1943 and resided until July when it moved to Tholthorpe in No. 6 (RCAF) Group. In some 330 sorties from Burn, No. 431 lost 20 Wellingtons. Before leaving, the squadron ceased operations ready to convert to Halifaxes.
No further bomber units were stationed at Burn until January 1944 when No. 578 Squadron was formed there from `C' Flight of No. 51 Squadron at Snaith. During the same month an accident in the bomb stores resulted in detonations causing some loss of life. Halifax-equipped No. 578 Squadron had 40 aircraft missing in action during 155 raids mounted from Burn. Its last operation on March 13, 1945, took place just 33 days before its disbandment. All told, 55 Halifaxes failed to return or were lost in UK crashes during operations from Burn.
A claim to fame, apart from 578's VC, 143 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 82 Distinguished Flying Medals over its 14month life, was its consistent bombing accuracy, resulting in the granting of a squadron crest by His Majesty King George VI in February 1945 with the motto `Accuracy'. Yet further accolade was earned by the squadron's ground crews, whose outstanding servicing of the Bristol Hercules XVI engines resulted in the award by the Bristol Aeroplane Company of a shield, now on display at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington near York.
Two of the squadron's Halifaxes passed the century mark on operations, flying 104 and 105 operations respectively, both aircraft surviving the war only to be scrapped.
Burn was closed for flying in July 1945. The Royal Army Service Corps moved in shortly afterwards and in the immediate post-war years the RASC used the station to store surplus military vehicles on its runways. During the next three decades the airfield buildings and the flying area was reclaimed for farming. Nevertheless, at the end of the century Burn remains one of the few airfields vacated by the RAF in 1945 on which all runways and most of the hardstandings still survive.