Like several other successful Italian bobsledders, Luciano De Paolis was a non-commissioned officer in the Italian Air Force and was selected for the bob team after performing tests among track and field athletes with good speed. At Grenoble in 1968, he was a two-time Olympic champion in the two- and four-man bobsled in the crews of pilot Eugenio Monti. After Monti retired, De Paolis won gold in the four-man at the 1969 European Championships with Alberto Frigo. He was also a member of the crew that won gold in the four-man event at the 1970 World Championships with Nevio de Zordo as pilot. In 1972, De Paolis competed at a second Winter Olympics and carried the Italian flag at the Opening Ceremony. With Italia II in the four-man bob of Gianfranco Gaspari he had to settle for eighth place. In the same year, the team was ranked second at the Military World Championships. Interestingly, De Paolis never did better than third place in the Italian Championships. He received the Italian Fair Play Award in 2009, with his teammate Mario Armano, in memory of Eugenio Monti.